July 4, 2022

VIOLENCE AVERTED: 31 Patriot Front extremists arrested at Idaho Pride celebration

VIOLENCE AVERTED: 31 Patriot Front extremists arrested at Idaho Pride celebration

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Thirty-one members of the white nationalist group, Patriot Front, were arrested in Idaho this weekend after they arrived in Coeur d’Alene to disrupt the North Idado Pride Alliance celebration scheduled in that city. Thanks to the actions of a concerned citizen, law enforcement officials were able to act quickly to detain members of the group and prevent any unnecessary violence by the white supremacists.

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Both Coeur d’Alene’s Police Chief Lee White, and Kootenai County’s Sheriff, Bob Norris, echoed the sentiment that the group was in town to be bad actors. Norris told a local Idaho reporter that “it appears these people did not come here to engage in peaceful events.” White amplified that opinion, saying “They came to riot downtown.”

While Idaho was the location of the event they wished to disrupt, only one of the nearly three dozen men crammed into the back of a U-Haul moving truck was actually from Idaho. The remaining members of the far-right domestic terrorist group were from 11 different states – including Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Oregon, and Virginia.

Formed after the anti-semitic Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 – a rally that left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead, and featured those responsible for the violence chanting racist slogans such as “Jews will not replace us” — Patriot Front has been continuously linked to violence and civil unrest since its inception. And not for noble reasons. Its members and leaders are inevitably linked to controversy. The Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted:

Uniformly dressed in Khakis, navy blue shirts, and white balaclavas, the group was arrested with shields, shin guards, riot gear, and a pre-meditated operations plan, further proof that their intent went farther than the First Amendment guaranteed right to “peaceful assembly.” Patriot Front pushes for the formation of a white ethnostate, a homogeneous Whites-only utopia, where they are free to espouse their racist, homophobic and anti-semitic views and act on them with willful disregard for humanity and no acknowledgment of the rights of those who don’t fit into their White, heterosexual, Christo-fascist box.

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Pro-civil rights legal group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, has kept tabs on the white nationalist hate group since its founding. SPLC examined how social media has become a vast recruiting tool for the group. The use of chants like “Reclaim America” has been a recurring motif – with one of those arrested in Coeur d’Alene having the slogan on the back of their shirt. Oren Segal, Vice President of the Center on Extremism at the ADL,  has said:

“What we saw in D.C. was an extension of an effort to remind Americans that the fight against white supremacy isn’t over. We can’t just sit back and rest after a Charlottesville case. We can’t just sit back and rest after white supremacists are de-platformed. We have to recognize that the battle against white supremacists continues.”

The Washington Post reported that of the more than 5000 cases of white supremacist propaganda reported to be circulating in 2020, Patriot Front accounted for 80%, per the Anti-Defamation League. This is a growing problem, a national one that the Department of Homeland Security has declared a domestic terror threat. And it’s one that all American citizens need to work together to eradicate.

Kudos to the citizen who alerted the police and to the police for acting on their concern. It goes to prove that one person can indeed make a difference. They can, do, and have in this case.

Original reporting by Martha Bellisle at The Los Angeles Times 

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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