US white supremacists arrested near Idaho gay pride event, say police
- 31 members of white supremacist group Patriot Front, from at least 11 states, ‘came to riot’ at Pride in the Park in Coeur d’Alene
- Wearing white balaclavas and with riot gear, they were found in a truck after a tip from someone who saw ‘a little army loading up into the vehicle’
Authorities arrested 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near an Idaho Pride in the Park event on Saturday after they were found packed into the back of a truck with riot gear.
The men were standing inside it wearing khakis, navy blue shirts and beige hats with white balaclavas covering their faces when police from the small city of Coeur d’Alene stopped the vehicle before arresting them on the side of the road.
“They came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White told a press conference.
All 31 were charged with conspiracy to riot, White said. The men were scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, he said, adding that the authorities believe the group was planning to riot in several places downtown, not just the park.
Police found riot gear, a smoke grenade, shin guards and shields inside the van, said White. They wore arm patches and logos on their hats that identified them as members of Patriot Front, he said.
Police learned about the truck from a tipster who said “it looked like a little army was loading up into the vehicle” in the parking lot of a hotel, White said. Officials spotted the truck soon after and pulled it over, he said.
Videos of the arrest on social media show the men kneeling on the grass with their hands zip-tied behind their backs.
“Reclaim America” was written on the back of one shirt.
Police led the men, one by one, to patrol cars, took off their masks and then brought them to a police van.
Those arrested came from at least 11 states, including Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia, and Arkansas, White said. Only one was from Idaho, he said.
The truck was stopped near where the North Idaho Pride Alliance was holding the Coeur d’Alene Pride in the Park event. Police had stepped up their presence in the area for it.
“It appears these people did not come here to engage in peaceful events,” Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris told a Coeur d’Alene reporter.
Patriot Front is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a white nationalist hate group” that formed after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
“Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said of the group.
The group’s manifesto calls for the formation of a white ethnostate in the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.