Thirty-one people affiliated with the white nationalist group “Patriot Front” were arrested in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Saturday.
Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said all 31 people are being charged with conspiracy to riot, which is a misdemeanor charge in Idaho. Police believe they were headed to riot at the Pride Festival.
White said they were alerted to the group thanks to an alert citizen who “saw something” and reported it. He said they developed probable cause to arrest those involved based on the gear they had. He said they were equipped with shields and other riot gear.
Police were still working to book all of those involved into jail but said those arrested traveled to North Idaho from Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and Virginia. One person was from Idaho.
White said they were all in matching khakis, shirts and hats, some of which had Patriot Front insignias on them.
The Coeur d’Alene Police Department worked with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and FBI to make the arrests. Kootenai County Sheriff Robert Norris said they would “find the room for these 31 people despite a nearly full jail.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes “Patriot Front” 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.
“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 said.
The suspects were booked Saturday with misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot. They’re scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.