Dozens of white nationalist group members arrested for Pride event riot plan

Members of the Patriot Front, a white nationalist group, were arrested over the weekend after planning to riot at a local Pride event (Pictures: Reuters)

Thirty-one members of a white nationalist group were arrested on Saturday in Idaho after they were caught planning to riot at a local Pride event, police said.

The 31 Patriot Front members were packed into a U-Haul truck and detained a short distance from the gathering, which was being held at a public park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

‘It is clear to us based on the gear that the individuals had with them, the stuff they had in their possession and in the U-Haul with them, along with paperwork that was seized from them, that they came to riot downtown,’ said Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White.

A concerned citizen had seen the large group piling into the rented U-Haul truck donning riot gear and called the police, telling authorities the group ‘looked like a little army,’ according to White.

The members of the group have been identified as (from top left) Jared Boyce, Nathan Brenner, Colton Brown, Josiah Buster, Mishael Buster, Devin Center, Dylan Corio, and Winston Durham. Second row, from left, are Garret Garland, Branden Haney, Richard Jessop, James Julius Johnson, James Michael Johnson, Connor Moran, Kieran Morris and Lawrence Norman. Third row, from left, are Justin O’leary, Cameron Pruitt, Forrest Rankin, Thomas Rousseau, Conor Ryan, Spencer Simpson, Alexander Sisenstein and Derek Smith. Bottom row, from left, are Dakota Tabler, Steven Tucker, Wesley Van Horn, Mitchell Wagner, Nathaniel Whitfield, Graham Whitsom and Robert Whitted (Pictures: AP)

Members of the group wore khaki pants and blue shirts as well as hats with plastic inside of them, White said. They were equipped with ‘shields, shin guards and other riot gear.’

Police also found papers ‘similar to an operations plan that a police or military group would put together for an event’ and at least one smoke grenade.

The men, who traveled from at least 10 other states, are being charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor. They are expected to be arraigned Monday.

Of those arrested include Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas, who has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the founder of the group. Rousseau, 23, reportedly founded the white supremacist group after the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

The men and leader Thomas Rousseau (not shown) were arrested for conspiracy to riot. From top left, L-R each row: Alexander Sisenstein, Branden Haney, Cameron Pruitt, Colton Brown, Connor Moran, Dakota Tabler, Derek Smith, Devin Center, Dylan Corio, Forrest Rankin, Garret Garland, Graham Whitsom, James Johnson, James Michael Johnson, Jared Boyce, Josiah Buster, Justin Oleary, Kieran Morris, Lawrence Norman, Michael Buster, Mitchell Wagner, Nathan Brenner, Nathaniel Whitfield, Richard Jessop, Robert Whitted, Spencer Simpson, Steven Tucker, Wesley Van Horn and Winston Durham (Pictures: Reuters)

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

There was already a large police presence at Saturday’s Pride event after authorities in Coeur d’Alene received information that there were ‘a number of groups that were planning to disrupt’ the activities. It’s unclear if police were aware of Patriot Front’s plans.

All 31 men have posted bond and were released from custody. Members of the group traveled to Idaho from across the US to reportedly riot at the Pride event, coming from at least 10 states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Virginia. Only one member was from Idaho.

The Coeur d’Alene police are leading an investigation into the incident, and are being assisted by the FBI.

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