Patriot Front members arrested at Way to Target Pride Event
Idaho police arrested more than 30 white supremacist members of the far-right Patriot Front on Saturday as the group headed to an LGBTQ+ pride celebration.
Local officials in Coeur d’Alene, located in northwest Idaho, have praised an eagle-eyed citizen for potentially saving the lives of LGBTQ+ pride celebrants.
Coeur d’Alene Police Department Chief Lee White told reporters the group planned to cause chaos by staging riots at the event.
Thirty-one members of the racist neo-Nazi Patriot Front, including the group’s founder, were arrested in the city after police stopped a U-Haul truck full of suspected rioters. The members are charged with conspiracy to riot – a misdemeanor.
According to White, a tipster called authorities around 1:38 p.m. PDT to report suspicious activity. The person who provided the information told authorities that people dressed in similar clothing boarded a U-Haul truck with shields and masks, looking “like a small army.”
After working with Idaho State Police, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, multiple SWAT teams and the FBI, White said police stopped the truck ten minutes after the initial call.
A video shared on Twitter shows police approaching the back door of the U-Haul with weapons drawn. As the door opens, a group of men wearing navy blue shirts and khakis with tan hats and white balaclavas begin to climb out of the truck with their hands raised. Once outside, they lay down on the ground, face down. Another video shows the men kneeling on the ground with their hands behind their backs, being taken away one by one and unmasked before being taken to jail.
According to White, several groups were planning to disrupt and protest Saturday’s Pride in the Park event, which resulted in a heavy police presence in the area.
White said officers found shields, shin guards and other riot gear in the vehicle, including at least one smoke grenade.
“These 31 individuals were arrested for conspiring to riot,” he said. the lawyer.
Patriot Front members came from at least ten other states, including Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and Virginia.
There was only one member of the group arrested in Idaho on Saturday night.
Mayor Jim Hammond of Coeur d’Alene recounts the lawyer that his city rejects racism as it has done in the past.
“The people arrested were all from other parts of the country, not locals,” Hammond said. “We still believe as we did…when the Aryans were north of [town.] We believe in human rights for all, and discrimination is never appropriate.”
The founder and then leader of the Aryan nation, Richard Butler led a parade through Coeur d’Alene in 1999. Several clashes took place at the time due to local opposition to the racist presence.
“I don’t think it would have been as successful if we hadn’t had an extremely astute citizen who saw something very concerning to him and reported it to us,” White said.
Authorities say it is clear the members came to the riot based on evidence they collected, including documents with a detailed outline of the planned riot.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremism and hate groups, describes the Patriot Front as “a white nationalist hate group that formed in the wake of the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va. August 12, 2017”.
One of those arrested on Saturday was Patriot Front founder Thomas Ryan Rousseau.
Patriot Front wasn’t alone in taking aim at celebrating Northwest Idaho Pride. Videos shared on social media show that several far-right groups demonstrated against Pride that day in the Coeur d’Alene neighborhood.
Ford Fischer Videographer captured armed bikers and others displaying anti-LGBTQ+ banners across from the Pride in the Park event. The group was mobilizing against children’s books they felt were inappropriate.
Several independent video producers who traveled across the country documenting social unrest shot videos showing the unmasked faces of Patriot Front members. The group goes to great lengths to conceal the identities of its members.
On Twitter, users like Alejandra, who goes by the name @aleximenez, posted threads with pictures of the racists so people could identify them.
White said he was happy with the operation and that people could safely celebrate the city’s pride.
Local news station KREM even reports that Saturday’s Pride in the Park was the largest in Coeur d’Alene’s history.
“I was in touch with the Pride event organizer all day, and was happy to hear that it was a safe and fun event for everyone who attended,” White said. the lawyerreferring to the North Idaho Pride Alliance.
He adds, “The Coeur d’Alene Police Department does not tolerate any form of hate, and we are extremely pleased that we were able to prevent a violent encounter from occurring at today’s event.”
The North Idaho Pride Alliance was not immediately available for comment.
“Law enforcement really came in today, and I think that’s a really important message and also a message of healing that’s needed in this country,” said Jessica Mahuron, director of outreach at North Idaho Pride Alliance. NPR. “I know a lot of law enforcement have had to delay their vacations and it’s been stressful for the whole city.”