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Hate groups fail to appear for first time since 1984

"It's December, and for the first time in years there's no sign of neo-Nazi activity on Whidbey Island.That's great news for the Island County Sheriff's Department, which has been tracking annual visits by hate groups since Dec. 8, 1984, when the FBI killed Robert Mathews in a fiery shootout in Greenbank. Mathews founded The Order, a notorious hate group based in Idaho.Since 1984, various hate groups have commemorated Mathews' death with annual visits to the island in December. Among them have been the Aryan Nations, White Aryan Resistance and, most recently, the National Socialist Vanguard. In recent years they have congregated on Smuggler's Cove Road in front of the property where Mathews died.The Sheriff's Office watched the site closely last weekend. Detective Russ Lindner said Tuesday that the groups historically appear the weekend before the date of Mathews' death. Last weekend, there was no activity. It was a non-event, Lindner said.The Sheriff's Office works closely with federal agencies to track hate groups. And to date, there appears to be no action scheduled for Whidbey Island this year.That could mean the end of Robert Mathews memorials on Whidbey Island. We can always hope, said Lindner. But there's always a new group waiting in the wings.Deputies will also be on alert this weekend in case a hate group should choose to appear after the date of Mathews' death. We'll continue to watch it, Lindner said. "

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