Idaho police arrested 31 members of the Patriot Front hate group on Saturday who planned to “riot” at a Pride event in downtown Coeur d’Alene, officials said.
The members of the group – who all appeared to be white men – were piled into a U-Haul truck and were discovered when he was stopped by police who had received a tip from a ‘concerned citizen’.
The tipster saw members of the white supremacist organization – which “looked like a small army” – load into the truck with masks and shields, officials said. Police also found shin guards, at least one smoke bomb and what was described as an “operations plan”, which officials declined to detail. They wore armbands and patches that read “Patriot Front”, police said.
The members were caught near an area where a Coeur d’Alene LGBTQ Pride event was taking place. Photos and video from the scene during their arrest show the members dressed almost identically in khakis, navy shirts, tan hats and white cloth covering their faces. Some of the t-shirts featured slogans, such as “Reclaim America”.
“They came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said at a news conference (see video above). All were charged with conspiracy to riot.
White said police had received reports for days that various right-wing extremists were planning to disrupt Pride events in town. Consequently, there was a strong contingent of police on duty and the arrests were uneventful, he said. He thanked the “extremely astute citizen” who alerted the police to the men.
White said he personally did not see any guns, but the search was just beginning, including a hotel where the men were staying. He also said local police officials were in regular contact with the FBI.
According to material collected from the truck, the men planned to riot in several locations, police say
“It looks like they didn’t come here to participate in peaceful events,” Kootenai County Sheriff Robert Norris told Coeur d’Alene Press.
Norris stressed at the press conference that the information was only preliminary and that an investigation was continuing into any other possible activity the group might have plotted.
Those arrested came from at least 11 states: Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia and Arkansas.