Patriot Front Members Detained on Way to Crashing Pride Event: Police

A clip making the rounds on social media shows members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front being detained by police, foiling plans to crash a Pride Festival event on Saturday.

The clip was initially posted to Twitter by Syrian journalist Alissa Azar, who claimed that it showed numerous Patriot Front members being detained and arrested by police in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Lee White later confirmed the arrests in a press conference, stating that an "operations plan" was found in the U-Haul, indicating that they planned to start a riot at the Pride event.

The clip from Azar, who according to her account bio covers right-wing violence in the Pacific Northwest, had been viewed over 290,000 times by Saturday evening and been shared by prominent left-wing commentator Ron Filipkowski.

"Oh look, white nationalist 'Patriot Front' tried to crash a Pride event in Idaho today using their patented U-Haul box truck transport system and got busted," Filipkowski wrote. "Sad."

Thirty-one members of the group were arrested at the event, according law enforcement. They were found in a U-Haul stopped by local police and detained. As can be seen in the video, they wore matching outfits consisting of dark blue shirts, beige pants, hats, sunglasses, and white masks covering the bottoms of their faces. Some could be seen with Patriot Front logos on their clothing.

The individuals found in the truck were detained with zip ties and arrested one by one. Local station KREM noted that homemade riot shields and other pieces of protective equipment could be seen amongst other evidence taken from the truck.

patriot front arrested at pride event
Members of the white nationalist Patriot Front group were allegedly arrested Saturday while attempting to disrupt an Idaho LGBT Pride event. Above, a representational image of a pride flag. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Patriot Front is, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a Neo-nazi group that began in Texas in 2017 in the aftermath of the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, rebranding after one of its members hit and killed counter-protester Heather Heyer with a car at the infamous event. The group is described as "staunchly white nationalist" and committed to "the formation of a white ethnostate." It is known for spreading its messages through theatrical public displays, such as hanging banners, or disrupting public events.

"When PF orchestrates protests or public appearances, they are typically tightly choreographed and scripted to maximize propaganda value," the SPLC post on the group explains. "Virtually all its activities are undertaken with propaganda value in mind."

According to jail records obtained by the Washington Post, Patriot Front founder Thomas Ryan Rousseau was among the members arrested in Idaho on Saturday. He has been charged with misdemeanor criminal conspiracy to riot.

On Friday, the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported that organizers of the event were planning to move ahead despite plans for a counter-event being planned by the group, Panhandle Patriots, to "go head-to-head" with the Pride festival.

Update 6/12/22, 9:50 a.m. ET: This article was updated with the latest information about the case.