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'Patriot Front' Founder among those arrested for riot conspiracy in Coeur d'Alene

Police stopped a U-haul in Coeur d'Alene on Saturday and arrested 31 people inside who police say have ties to a known national hate group.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) released the identities of 31 people arrested inside a U-haul allegedly headed to start a riot in Coeur d'Alene Saturday afternoon where a Pride event was taking place. 

Several national news outlets are reporting among those arrested was Patriot Front Founder, Thomas Rousseau. The Patriot Front is a known white nationalist group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Credit: Kootenai County Sheriff's Office
Thomas R. Rousseau among 31 arrested inside back of U-haul truck in Coeur d'Alene, charged with conspiracy to riot Saturday afternoon.

Police stopped the U-haul on Northwest Boulevard near the skate park and Paul Bunyan, after a concerned citizen made a call to 911 alerting them to suspicious activity. 

Inside the back of the truck police found 31 men all wearing the same clothes, including khakis, with navy blue shirts, beige hats, and a white cloth covering their faces. 

Police arrested the group and charged them with Conspiracy to Riot Saturday. According to the KCSO, by Sunday afternoon all 31 men had bounded out of the Kootenai County Jail. 

Inside the back of the U-haul police said they found evidence of what appeared to be a homemade riot shield and some protective equipment. Police said they also found at least one smoke grenade.

Those arrested came from 13 states: 

  • Michigan
  • Texas
  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Wyoming
  • Utah
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Illinois
  • Arkansas

According to the Coeur d'Alene Police Chief the 31 men had ties to the white nationalist hate group, Patriot Front. Thomas Rousseau, 23, was among those arrested in the U-haul. 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front is a white nationalist hate group that broke off from Vanguard America in the aftermath of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.  

During that event a young counter protester, Heather Heyer, was killed when a member of the neo-Nazi group drove his car into the crowd. 

Following that event, Rousseau formed his group in Texas, which has ideological beliefs focused on white pride and Xenophobia. The group's manifesto calls for the formation of a "white ethnostate" in the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center said. 

"They came to riot downtown," Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Lee White said at a news conference on Saturday.

Based on evidence collected and documents, authorities found that the group was planning to riot in several areas of downtown, not just the park, White said.

This is a developing story KREM 2 Will continue to track the latest updates. 

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