Authorities in Coeur D’alene arrested 31 people allegedly affiliated with Patriot Front. The men were found inside a U-Haul truck near the event.
“It is clear to us, based on the gear the individuals had with them … along with paperwork that we seized from them, that they came to riot downtown,” said Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White at a press conference.
Police were alerted to the U-Haul around 1:38 p.m. by a concerned resident upon seeing group members get into the back of the truck, White said. Police confronted the group about 10 minutes later.
Footage posted to social media showed the U-Haul’s residents wearing khakis, navy blue shirts, beige hats, and cloth facial coverings, a standard uniform for members of Patriot Front, a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has declared a white supremacist group. At least one of the men had an arm patch that said “Patriot Front,” White said. The others also had hats with logos that were “consistent” with other Patriot Front uniforms.
All 31 men are being charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor, White said. The police chief also said that further charges “might be pending.”
“In my opinion, I would gladly arrest 31 individuals who are coming to riot in our city for a misdemeanor rather than have them participate in some sort of seriously disruptive event, which is exactly what they were planning in the downtown area” White added.
The men also had shields and wore shinguards, White said, also noting at least one smoke bomb was recovered, according to police. Police mentioned no other weapons.
The individuals were not just planning to disrupt the Pride event at a local park, White said. The police chief claimed they had information indicating that the 31 men would also attempt to riot in other areas. The men all came from different states, White said.
A tipster told police “it looked like a little army was loading up into the vehicle” in a hotel parking lot, White said.
Patriot Front is “a white supremacist group formed by disaffected members of another white supremacist group, Vanguard America, in September 2017, in the wake of the Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia,” , according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“Flash” events and torch-wielding are hallmarks of the Patriot Front’s activism, the ADL notes. More than 100 members of the group orchestrated a march on the National Mall in Dec. 2021. Suspected members of the group were also seen at the March for Life anti-abortion rally in January.