Antler, North Dakota looks to the public for help after outspending their budget to fight a racist group buying abandoned property.
image via (cc) flickr user auvet
Hundreds of miles from any major metropolitan center, lies the tiny town of Antler, North Dakota. Founded in 1905, the most recent U.S. census report pegs its population at just 27 people. It’s home to what claims to be the world’s largest historical quilt and, this year, has already far outspent its entire annual budget of $20,000. But, rather than being a case of fiscal irresponsibility or frivolous municipal pork barrel spending, Antler’s monitory woes are the result of the town’s efforts to block a group of white supremacists from buying land for the purpose of establishing a whites-only enclave in the town.
Over the past year, members of the white nationalist “Creativity Movement” have been making bids on property around Antler, in the hopes of purchasing enough land in town to found their all-white community–one which movement leader Craig Cobb plans to name “Trump Creativity” after his favorite politician. Antler officials, rightfully horrified at the thought of their home becoming a haven for racism, went on the attack, making their own offers to buy a number of privately held lots being looked at by the Creativity Movement. Jim Lozensky, the former Antler resident selling the property in question, ultimately accepted the city’s bids over those of Cobb and his followers, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
But securing the property didn’t mean Antler was in the clear just yet. As town mayor Bruce Hanson explained to local CBS affiliate KXNews:
Nobody really wanted him in town so the city pursued the vacant lots that he was interested in and we bought them. We spent just about all of our operating money doing so. We're a small town. We have a $20,000 annual budget.
In fact, reportsGizmodo, the town ended up spending nearly twice that–$35,000 in total–in order to stymie the Creativity Movement’s plans. And so, while the properties in question may be off the market, Antler itself is in some serious financial trouble. In response, Antler city council and zoning board member Mark Jorgensen has turned to an unlikely source for help: Crowdfunding.
While the newly launched “Antler, ND Preservation Fund” campaign doesn’t mention the specifics of the town’s monetary predicament, the initiative’s GoFundMe page description is fairly unambiguous. It reads simply:
Funds will be used to pay for legal expenses & property, tear down neglected buildings and make general improvements to the city.
You can also mail donations to:
City of Antler
PO Box 23
Antler, ND 58711
This gofundme account was set up at the request of the City Council of Antler, ND by Mark Jorgensen, a member of the Antler Zoning Board. The funds will be used to preserve the City of Antler. Expenses include purchasing property, legal fees associated with the property purchase, expenses to tear down neglected buildings and repair city buildings. All of the funds will be paid directly to the City of Antler.
The campaign, which launched late last month, has raised over $6,500 out of its goal of $50,000, from one hundred and fifty individual patrons.
While Antler may be unique in how it has gone about addressing its budgetary shortcomings, the town is, in fact, not alone in the circumstances that lead to their spending. Just over two hundred miles away from Antler lies the city of Leith, North Dakota, which too saw their community eyed by Cobb and his followers as a possible site for a white supremacist enclave. Those plans ended when Cobb was removed from Leith after being arrested for threatening town residents. Earlier this summer, citizens of Leith made the trip to an Antler town meeting, where they shared their experience dealing with the white supremacist group.
Cobb, meanwhile, reportedly lives lives just outside Antler. As Mayor Hanson toldKXNews: “Yeah, he still lives over in Sherwood. I hope he stays over there or goes someplace else but I don't know who you'd wish the guy on.”