PICTURED: Members of the Patriot Front hate group arrested for planning a riot at Idaho Pride


PICTURED: 31 members of Patriot Front white supremacy group arrested for planning a riot at Idaho Pride as attorney defends them saying ‘even if you don’t like the speech, they have the right to make it,’

  • The arrests included a man one identified as the group’s founder. They were arrested after a tipster described the group looking like ‘a little army’ 
  • LGBTQ advocates said Sunday that polarization and a fraught political climate are putting their community increasingly at risk 
  • Among those booked into jail on misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot was Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas 
  • He has been identified as the 23-year-old who founded the group after the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. 
  • All 31 were charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor, after police received reports from residents 

The identities of 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were arrested near an Idaho pride event after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear. 

The arrests included a man one identified as the group’s founder. They were arrested after a tipster described the group looking like ‘a little army’ at a hotel parking lot in Coeur d´Alene, Idaho, police said.

LGBTQ advocates said Sunday that polarization and a fraught political climate are putting their community increasingly at risk.

Among those booked into jail on misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot was Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas, who has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the 23-year-old who founded the group after the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. 

No attorney was immediately listed for him and phone numbers associated with him went unanswered Sunday.

The identities of 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were arrested near an Idaho pride event after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear

The identities of 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were arrested near an Idaho pride event after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear

Among those booked into jail on misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot was Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas, who has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the 23-year-old who founded the group after the deadly 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017

Among those booked into jail on misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot was Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas, who has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the 23-year-old who founded the group after the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017

More than 30 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were arrested near an Idaho pride event after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear

More than 30 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were arrested near an Idaho pride event after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear

Also among the arrestees was Mitchell F. Wagner, 24, of Florissant, Missouri, who was previously charged with defacing a mural of famous black Americans on a college campus in St. Louis last year.

Michael Kielty, Wagner’s attorney, said Sunday that he had not been provided information about the charges. 

He said Patriot Front did not have a reputation for violence and that the case could be a First Amendment issue. 

‘Even if you don’t like the speech, they have the right to make it,’ he said.

The remaining people arrested were: Jared M. Boyce, Nathan D. Brenner, Colton M. Brown, Josiah D. Buster, Mishael J. Buster, Devin W. Center, Dylan C. Corio, Winston W. Durham, Garret J. Garland, Branden M. Haney, Richard J. Jessop, James M. Johnson, James J. Johnson, Kieran P. Morris, Lawrence A. Norman, Justin M. Oleary, Cameron K. Pruitt, Forrest C. Rankin, Conor J. Ryan, Spencer T. Simpson, Alexander N. Sisenstein, Derek J. Smith, Dakota R. Tabler, Steven D. Tucker, Wesley E. Van Horn, Nathaniel T. Whitfield, Robert B. Whitted, Graham J. Whitsom, Connor P. Moran.

All 31 were charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor, after police received reports from residents who spotted the ‘little army’ getting inside the vehicle around 1.38 p.m., local news station KREM2 reported. 

Also among the arrestees was Mitchell F. Wagner, 24, of Florissant, Missouri, who was previously charged with defacing a mural of famous black Americans on a college campus in St. Louis last year

Also among the arrestees was Mitchell F. Wagner, 24, of Florissant, Missouri, who was previously charged with defacing a mural of famous black Americans on a college campus in St. Louis last year

All 31 were charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor, after police received reports from residents who spotted the 'little army' getting inside the vehicle around 1.38 p.m.

All 31 were charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor, after police received reports from residents who spotted the ‘little army’ getting inside the vehicle around 1.38 p.m. 

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. 

Patriot Front is a white supremacist neo-Nazi group whose members perceive black Americans, Jews and LGBTQ people as enemies, said Jon Lewis, a George Washington University researcher who specializes in homegrown violent extremism.

Their playbook, Lewis said, involves identifying local grievances to exploit, organizing on platforms like the messaging app Telegram and ultimately showing up to events marching in neat columns, in blue- or white-collared-shirt uniforms, in a display of strength.

Though Pride celebrations have long been picketed by counter-protesters citing religious objections, they haven’t historically been a major focus for armed extremist groups. 

Still, it isn’t surprising, given how anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has increasingly become a potent rallying cry in the far-right online ecosystem, Lewis said.

Authorities arrest members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near an Idaho pride event Saturday

Authorities arrest members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near an Idaho pride event Saturday

The men were standing inside the truck wearing khakis, navy blue shirts and beige hats with white balaclavas covering their faces

The men were standing inside the truck wearing khakis, navy blue shirts and beige hats with white balaclavas covering their faces

Police stopped the vehicle on Northwest Boulevard near Paul Bunyan, close to where the Pride event was taking place

Police stopped the vehicle on Northwest Boulevard near Paul Bunyan, close to where the Pride event was taking place

‘That set of grievances fits into their broader narratives and shows their ability to mobilize the same folks against `the enemy´ over and over and over again,’ he said.

The arrests come amid a surge of charged rhetoric around LGBTQ issues and a wave of state legislation aimed at transgender youth, said John McCrostie, the first openly gay man elected to the Idaho Legislature. 

In Boise this week, dozens of Pride flags were stolen from city streets.

‘Whenever we are confronted with attacks of hate, we must respond with the message from the community that we embrace all people with all of our differences,’ McCrostie said in a text message.

Sunday also marked six years since the mass shooting that killed 49 people at the Orlando LGBTQ club Pulse, said Troy Williams with Equality Utah in Salt Lake City.

‘Our nation is growing increasingly polarized, and the result has been tragic and deadly,’ he said.

They recovered at least one smoke grenade and riot gear

They recovered at least one smoke grenade and riot gear

They also found documents that included an 'operations plan' from the truck, as well as shields and shin guards, all of which made their intentions clear

They also found documents that included an ‘operations plan’ from the truck, as well as shields and shin guards, all of which made their intentions clear

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 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

Authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area are investigating a possible hate crime after a group of men allegedly shouted homophobic and anti-LGBTQ slurs during a weekend Drag Queen Story Hour at the San Lorenzo Library on Saturday. 

No arrests have been made, no one was physically harmed, and authorities are investigating the incident as possible harassment of children.

In Coeur d´Alene on Saturday, police found riot gear, one smoke grenade, shin guards and shields inside the van after pulling it over near a park where the North Idaho Pride Alliance was holding a Pride in the Park event, Coeur d´Alene Police Chief Lee White said.

The group came to riot around the small northern Idaho city wearing Patriot Front patches and logos on their hats and some T-shirts reading ‘Reclaim America’ according to police and videos of the arrests posted on social media.

Though there is a history of far-right extremism dating back decades in northern Idaho, White said only one of those arrested Saturday was from the state.

The six-hour Pride event generally went on as scheduled, including booths, food, live music, a drag show and a march of more than 50 people, the Idaho Statesman reported.

‘We have been through so much, so much,’ Jessica Mahuron of the North Idaho Pride Alliance, which organized the event, told KREM-TV. ‘Harassment, and attempts to intimidate on the psychological level, and the truth is if you allow yourself to be intimidated you let them win and what we have shown today is that you will not win.’

The group is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

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