Idaho police officers on Saturday arrested 31 people who are believed to be affiliated with the White nationalist group called Patriot Front, after they were seen gathering near a Pride parade in the city of Coeur d’Alene, police said.
“It is clear to us based on the gear that the individuals had with them, the stuff they had in their possession, the U-Haul with them along with paperwork that was seized from them, that they came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said during a news conference.
The FBI is assisting local police in its investigation, according to FBI Public Affairs Specialist Sandra Yi Barker. Barker said Coeur d’Alene police are the lead law enforcement agency investigating the situation.
The people who were arrested by the Idaho police officers were all wearing similar clothing associated with Patriot Front, including identical insignia, and there was at least one smoke grenade in their possession, police said. They were still being processed at the time of the news conference and have not yet been identified.
White said the group was equipped with “shields, shin guards and other riot gear with them,” along with papers he described as “similar to an operations plan that a police or military group would put together for an event.”
The 31 individuals were arrested by Idaho police officers for conspiracy to riot, which is a misdemeanour, White said, adding the suspects came from at least 11 states.
The operation in Coeur d’Alene began when a concerned citizen informed police “approximately 20 people jumped into a U-Haul. They had shields and looked like a little army,” White said.
There was no violence or significant disruption before the arrests were made, White said, adding, “Today ended up being relatively uneventful overall.”