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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Four members of Patriot Front pleaded not guilty on Monday

Aug. 15, 2022 Updated Mon., Aug. 15, 2022 at 9:06 p.m.

Thirty-one men with the group Patriot Front are 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 on June 11.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Thirty-one men with the group Patriot Front are 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 on June 11. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Four members of the white supremacist organization Patriot Front appeared before a Kootenai County judge on Monday on charges of criminal conspiracy to riot.

James J. Johnson, 36, of Concrete, Washington; Spencer Thomas Simpson, 20, of Ellensburg; Devin Wayne Center, 22, of Fayeteville, Arkansas; and Lawrence A. Norman, 32, of Prospect, Oregon, all pleaded not guilty.

Simpson was the only one to appear in person on Monday. The others appeared virtually.

The four men were arrested in June along with 27 others when North Idaho law enforcement discovered them packed into the back of a U-Haul truck equipped with riot gear and a smoke grenade, among other items, apparently on their way to a Pride celebration that had been the focus of far-right ire for at least a month.

The U-Haul truck was stopped after police said that a concerned citizen reported seeing a “little army” climbing into the vehicle at a hotel parking lot. Police stopped the vehicle less than a quarter-mile from its apparent destination.

Of the 31 arrested, none was from Coeur d’Alene. At least three had ties to Spokane.

Patriot Front posted photos Monday of its members dropping one of its banners from an Interstate 90 overpass in Coeur d’Alene .

The Monday court appearances bring the total number of Patriot Front members who have pleaded not guilty to 13 so far.

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