COEUR d'ALENE - Former FBI agent Wayne Manis has seen dark days in America.
He went undercover to infiltrate the Political Far Left, a violent group in Chicago that plotted to blow up the Democratic National Convention in 1968. He was the only undercover agent in the force at that time.
He had a few dangerously close encounters with the Dixie Mafia while working in Alabama in the 1970s.
He chased fugitives across the Arizona desert in horseback, came face-to-face with hardcore members of the Ku Klux Klan and fought plenty of bad guys, including some of the most violent individuals in the "Silent Brotherhood/The Order" terrorist group and the Aryan Nations here in the Northwest in the 1980s.
"Let me make something clear," he said. "I was never involved in the killing of anyone that didn't need it."
Manis had his first book signing Saturday evening in the Human Rights Education Institute, where he talked about some of the experiences chronicled in his book, "The Street Agent: After Taking on the Mob, the Klan and the Aryan Nations, he walks softly and carries a .357 Magnum - The True Story."
"Criminals generally sleep all day and they play all night," Manis said. "If you're going to catch them, you got to do the same thing."
The book signing event, hosted by the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, drew a crowd that packed the HREI. Each seat was full as people leaned forward to intently listen to Manis while he shared harrowing and courageous parts of his life.
Manis, who is the founder and president of OnBelay Security Solutions in Coeur d'Alene, spent 28 years in the FBI. He worked closely with the task force during his investigation of Order 1 and Order 2 of the Aryan Nations.
"I stand here tonight before you saying that I am totally convinced that had it not been for the work of the FBI in particular and the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office and the city police, there are people in this community today that are alive that would be dead," said host and co-founder of the KCTFHR Tony Stewart. "I am totally convinced of that. And Wayne was at the center of that action."
"There were so many incidents, so many things that most people in the community are not aware of," Manis said.
Manis shared intense moments, times when bullets flew over his head, a bomb was thrown into his front yard and an FBI agent who didn't know Manis was undercover smashed him into a wall like a criminal.
Manis, who left the FBI in 1994, said when FBI officials reviewed his book, they kept it for seven months rather than the one month they were supposed to have it.
"It was a struggle to get them to release it," he said. "It's all true."
He explained the term "street agent" compared to "special agent."
"You won't find that listed in any government registry or or any book, or anything that refers to 'FBI agent,'" he said. "It's a term of endearment among agents, that small percentage of agents that decides that they are personally going to wage a war on crime."
"The Street Agent" is available online at www.thestreetagent.com.
"The book is both chilling and in my statement, also, heroic," Stewart said. "Several times when he almost lost his life.
"I only have a few heroes. Wayne is one of them."