A group of domestic terrorists nearly turned a family-friendly celebration into a violent attack this weekend. The Daily Beast reports that cops intercepted a truck full of white supremacists heading to riot at a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. A concerned citizen called in a tip about a gang of masked men who “looked like a little army” loading into a moving truck.
Police stopped the truck outside the North Idaho Pride Alliance’s annual “Pride in the Park.” Officers from Coeur d’Alene police, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police responded to the scene. Instead of the classic white robes and hoods, the 31 men were arrested in matching Patriot Front masks, navy shirts, and khaki pants.
If the uniform sounds familiar, it’s because the white nationalist group Patriot Front is a rebrand of the organization behind the Charlottesville hate rally. A member of this extremist group killed Heather Heyer at the neo-Nazi event. The dozens of men arrested Saturday came from 11 states, including Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, Wyoming and Virginia. One of the Patriot Front’s signature moves is using U-Hauls to travel in mobs.
“We received a telephone call from a concerned citizen who reported that approximately 20 people jumped into a U-Haul wearing masks, they had shields, and ‘looked like a little army,” said Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White. “They had shields, shin guards, and other riot gear with them, including at least one smoke grenade,” White explained during a Saturday press conference.
In a bizarre scene straight out of a Scooby-Doo marathon, arresting officers unmasked each of the 31 zip-tied men before loading them into a police van. Officers also recovered an “operational plan” with multiple targets around the town other than the Pride event. The men were all charged with the conspiracy to riot. As the investigation continues, the misdemeanor will likely be the first of many criminal charges in this incident.
“It is clear to us, based on the gear the individuals had with them … along with paperwork that we seized from them, that they came to riot downtown,” White confirmed. “In my opinion, I would gladly arrest 31 individuals who are coming to riot in our city for a misdemeanor, rather than have them participate in some sort of seriously disruptive event, which is exactly what they were planning in the downtown area.”
There was already an increased police presence in the area due to “a number of groups planning to disrupt today’s activities.” A conservative motorcycle gang planned their own event called “Gun d’Alene” to confront attendees at Pride in the Park
We should all take note of this close call and start working together as much as these road-tripping rancid racists. The glorification of Kyle Rittenhouse and coordinated national effort uncovered with this recent bust show that Black and LGBTQ communities have well-organized and well-funded common enemies. The same racists rewriting history books to whitewash history are criminalizing gay and trans people for simply existing. As Pride month continues and Juneteenth celebrations are on the horizon, community support is more critical than ever.