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Three Patriot Front members plead not guilty in first court appearance

Aug. 1, 2022 Updated Mon., Aug. 1, 2022 at 8:56 p.m.

A group of 31 men with the white supremacy group Patriot Front were removed from the back of a U-Haul rental truck and arrested after a traffic stop by multiple law enforcement agencies on Northwest Boulevard in Coeur d’ Alene. The stop was made just a few blocks from where the “Pride in the Park” event was being held in Coeur d’Alene City Park on June 11, 2022. Police say the men, dressed similarly, had shields and other gear and were intending to riot in downtown Coeur d’Alene.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
A group of 31 men with the white supremacy group Patriot Front were removed from the back of a U-Haul rental truck and arrested after a traffic stop by multiple law enforcement agencies on Northwest Boulevard in Coeur d’ Alene. The stop was made just a few blocks from where the “Pride in the Park” event was being held in Coeur d’Alene City Park on June 11, 2022. Police say the men, dressed similarly, had shields and other gear and were intending to riot in downtown Coeur d’Alene. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Three members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front pleaded not guilty in Kootenai County District Court Monday afternoon to conspiracy to riot during a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene on June 11.

Garret J. Garland, 23, of Freeburg, Illinois; Branden M. Haney, 35, of Kaysville, Utah; and Forest C. Rankin, 28, of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, all appeared before Judge John Cafferty Monday over Zoom.

Thirty-one members of the alt-right group were discovered in the back of a U-Haul truck less than a quarter-mile from the North Idaho Pride in the Park’s annual celebration, which they intended to disrupt, according to court documents. The members donned matching blue shirts, khaki shorts, white balaclavas and baseball caps, and police found protective gear, shields, a smoke grenade and paperwork that appeared to be an operations plan in the U-Haul.

Six other members have already appeared in Kootenai County District Court and entered not guilty pleas. The remaining members of the 31 arrested in June are scheduled to be arraigned by the end of August.

Rankin, who lived in Wheat Ridge at the time of his arrest, notified the court that his address has changed. He recently moved to Lorenzo, Texas, near the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where Patriot Front is based.

Eight of the 31 men arrested in June were listed as living in Texas when arrested, including Patriot Front leader Thomas Ryan Rousseau. Also among those listed as living in Texas is 24-year-old Josiah Buster, previously of Spokane.

The day before the court hearings, Patriot Front posted on Gab, a Twitter-like social-media service popular among the white nationalists, that they were conducting trainings in north Texas. They also posted images of Patriot Front graffiti covering Pride posters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Both Garland and Rankin indicated they will be applying for a public defender to represent them as the case proceeds through Kootenai County District Court. Haney said he will be hiring his own attorney.

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