Patriot Front white nationalists are released from prison

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Thirty-one members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front, who were arrested over the weekend in Idaho on suspicion of conspiring to violently disrupt an LGBTQ pride event, have been released from prison and will make their first court appearances in the coming weeks, a Court official said on Monday.

The men, who were arrested Saturday after the U-Haul rental car they were in was stopped, face felony counts of conspiracy to commit riots, according to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Police Chief Lee White.

A local resident called authorities after seeing the group of men, all dressed alike, sporting white spat masks and shields, loading into the truck “like a small army,” White said.

Police stopped the truck about 10 minutes after the call, not far from the Pride in the Park event, he said.

Karlene Behringer, the Kootenai County Court Clerk, confirmed the men have been released from prison and will appear in court at a later date.

During a news conference Monday, White said authorities were unaware of the group’s plans in Coeur d’Alene, a town in the Idaho Panhandle about 380 miles (612 km) north of the capital Boise.

“One lesson we have for our community … is that a concerned citizen can prevent something terrible from happening,” White said.

Video taken at the scene of the arrest and posted online showed a group of men in police custody kneeling beside the truck with their hands tied and wearing similar khaki pants, blue shirts, white masks and baseball caps.

Men who police say belong to the white nationalist group Patriot Front pose for photos released by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

Police officers confiscated from the truck at least one smoke grenade, a collection of shields and shin guards and documents containing an “operational plan,” White said over the weekend, adding that the items made their intentions clear.

“You don’t see that level of preparation every day,” he said. “It was immediately clear to us that it was a rampaging group.”

The men came from at least 11 states in the country, White said, including Texas, Colorado and Virginia.

Since the arrest, White said he and others in his department have received death threats. He did not give details.

The Patriot Front was formed after the 2017 white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when it split from another extremist group, Vanguard America, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which prosecutes hate groups.

Saturday’s Pride event, described by organizers as the biggest ever in northern Idaho, drew a crowd of several hundred people to the celebrations, which included a talent show and drag queen dance lesson, locals reported Media.

“We’re in the same town as last week,” Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond said Monday. “We are a city that respects everyone, that welcomes everyone.”

KREM-TV in Spokane reported that several smaller groups turned up to protest the gathering, with dozens of people seen with guns at the edge of the park in what organizers say was an attempt to intimidate attendees at the LGBTQ event.



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