A group of 31 men with ties to a white nationalist hate group were busted by Idaho police after they were found in the rear of a U-Haul van in the area of an LGBTQ Pride event in Coeur d’Alene on Saturday.
“They came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said at a press conference.
The men are members of the Patriot Front — a hate organization formed after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017.
Police received a call from a concerned citizen around 1:38 p.m. saying a large group of men had jumped into the back of a U-Haul. The caller told police they looked like “a little army” and some were carrying shields.
Ten minutes later, police found the truck and made a traffic stop not far from the North Idaho Pride Alliance’s Coeur d’Alene Pride in the Park event. Cops surrounded the truck and detained all 31 men. They were charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor, White said.
They all were wearing a matching uniform of khaki or brown pants, navy shirts, khaki baseball caps and white balaclavas over their faces, photo and video from the scene show.
Photos show the group kneeling on the grass with their hands zip-tied behind their backs. They wore arm patches and logos on their hats that identified them as members of Patriot Front. “Conquerors on Thieves” was written on the back of one shirt. A patch that read “victory or death” was on the back of each hat.
They had shields, shin guards “and other riot gear with them, including at least one smoke grenade,” White said.
Police led the men, one-by-one, to the front of patrol cars where they took off their masks and then loaded them into to a police van.
The group came “from all over,” including Texas, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and Virginia, he said. Coeur d’Alene is located about 35 miles east of Spokane, Wa.
The men are being booked into the Kootenai County Jail, KREM reported. They are expected to appear in court on Monday.
Police had received information over the last few days that there were groups planning to disrupt the Pride event, which led to an increased police presence in the city on Saturday. White commended the tipster for calling the police.
“I don’t think this would have been as successful had we not one extremely astute citizen who saw something that was very concerning to them and reported it,” he said.
“It is clear to us based on the gear the individuals had with them … along with paperwork that was seized by them that they came to riot downtown.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front is an “image-obsessed organization” that “focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country.”
Their manifesto calls for the establishment of a white ethnostate in the United States.
With Post Wires