Police: 31 people arrested in Idaho for conspiring to riot near the Pride parade “They came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said of the group. (ncd)
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Authorities in Idaho on Saturday arrested 31 people belonging to a group of white supremacists near a Pride event after they were spotted in riot gear in the back of a U-Haul truck.
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The group, called the Patriot Front, arrived in Coeur d’Alene and were stopped by police for a traffic stop, the Idaho Statesman reported.
The men stood in the truck in khaki pants, navy blue shirts and beige hats with white balaclavas covering their faces, according to The Associated Press.
“Based on the equipment that the individuals had with them, the stuff that they had in their possession, the U-Haul they had with them and the documents confiscated, we understand they rioted downtown,” Coeur d’ Alene said Police Chief Lee White said at a news conference.
All 31 men were charged with conspiracy to riot, which is a misdemeanor, White said. They are expected to be charged on Monday, the boss added. Among those arrested was Tom Rousseau, the national leader of the Patriot Front, the Statesman reported.
It is unclear whether the arrested men have lawyers.
Only one of the men was from Idaho, according to the newspaper. The others came from Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
The mass arrest took place near City Park, where the North Idaho Pride Alliance held its annual Pride in the Park event, according to the Coeur d’Alene Press.
White told reporters that the group was equipped with “shields, shin guards and other riot gear,” along with papers he described as “similar to an operational plan that a police or military group would put together for an event.”
The police found out about the U-Haul through a tip, the AP reported. The person told police that “it looked like a small army was loading into the vehicle” in a hotel parking lot, White told reporters.
Police stopped the vehicle after spotting it shortly after receiving the tip.
“I don’t think this would have been as successful if we hadn’t had a very perceptive citizen who saw something that was very disturbing to him and reported it to us,” White said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Patriot Front as a “white nationalist hate group” that formed after the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The group’s manifesto calls for the formation of a white ethnostate in the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.
White said the arrested men were “definitely not” connected to the loosely affiliated group of anti-fascist activists known as Antifa.
“This group is affiliated with the Patriot Front,” White told the press.
“It appears that these people did not come here to participate in peaceful events,” Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris told the newspaper.
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