COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — New court documents shed light on just how much planning went into a white nationalist group's plan to riot at a downtown Coeur d'Alene pride event in June.
31 members of the hate group Patriot Front were arrested in June after they were found hiding in the back of a U-Haul trailer. All 31 were arrested and charged with conspiracy to riot, which is a misdemeanor.
KREM 2 investigators wanted to know what police learned about the group's coordinated presence in Coeur d'Alene and what they were planning. After multiple requests, KREM 2 received a redacted copy of those plans from the Kootenai County Clerk's Office.
Coeur d'Alene was preparing for its 2022 Pride in the Park celebration downtown on June 11. Because of prior online chatter and threats from numerous hate groups, Coeur d'Alene Police increased staffing for the event in preparation.
As officers were patrolling the downtown area, a call came in from a concerned citizen, saying "a large group of about 20 individuals" was seen getting into the cargo area of a U-Haul truck in the parking lot of the Spring Hill Suites.
The caller reported them as "wearing masks, dressed in similar clothing, and equipped with shields." The caller told police the group looked "like a little army."
Coeur d'Alene Police are keeping the identity hidden of the original 911 caller, stating it's because Patriot Front is a known white nationalist and neo-fascist hate group that is known to be violent.
According to court documents, one of the individuals was also believed to be communicating with another man in a red Camry using two-way radio, further indicting to police "an organized and pre-planned event."
Multiple officers responded to pull over the U-Haul. When they opened the rear door, 31 men were found inside, removed from the trailer and detained on the side of the road.
KREM 2's Kyle Simchuk tweeted out this now-viral photo of the arrests.
In the back of the U-Haul, police found metal shields, flags on abnormally long metal poles and at least one smoke grenade. Many of the suspects were wearing face masks, shin guards and other protective gear at the time of the arrest, according to documents.
Several suspects were also wearing Patriot Front patches on their clothing.
Officers said it was similar in nature to law enforcement riot control equipment, indicating either an intent to use violence or the threat of violence to disturb the public peace.
Documents show Thomas Rousseau, the man identified as "the leader and founder of Patriot Front," was also carrying documents "outlining call locations, primary checkpoints and drill times, as well as GPS coordinates for a drop point with two backup plans."
These new documents obtained by KREM 2 reveal plans by the group to use "smoke" at the discretion of a "column coordinator" and an exit strategy "once a confrontational dynamic had been established."
Investigators state this "recovered operational plan further indicated the confrontational intentions of the group to antagonize and cause disorder."
In all, 31 men from 13 different states were arrested and two other vehicles were impounded, in addition to the U-Haul.
When questioning one man from Birmingham, Alabama, he told police, "We go where we are needed."
Coeur d'Alene Police are keeping the identity hidden of the original 911 caller, stating it's because "Patriot Front is a known white nationalist and neo-fascist hate group that is known to be violent."
Approximately 20 of the 31 men have already appeared in court and all of them have pleaded not guilty. Rousseau is expected in Kootenai County Court on Aug. 29.
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