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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

What is the Patriot Front? What to know about the far-right group arrested in Coeur d’Alene on Saturday

Police say the group Patriot Front had shields and other gear and were intending to riot on Saturday in downtown Coeur d’Alene.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Kootenai County law enforcement officials arrested 31 men from a far-right group known as Patriot Front on Saturday in Coeur d’Alene.

But what is known about Patriot Front?

Patriot Front is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a white nationalist hate group” that broke off from a different far-right group after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Its founder is Thomas Rousseau.

The group is based in Texas but has membership across the country. Members arrested in Coeur d’Alene came from Texas, Arkansas, Wyoming and Washington, with only one from Idaho, police said. According to the SPLC, Patriot Front is one of six recognized hate groups in Idaho.

“Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country,” the SPLC said of the group.

The group has a manifesto that calls for the formation of a white ethnostate in the United States, according to the SPLC. Its brand of activism often consists of posting flyers and other advertisements in public places that promote an extremist brand of patriotism, the SPLC said. Some Patriot Front stickers and flyers have been seen in Spokane in the past.

Its members, who are almost exclusively young white men, are often seen wearing a uniform that consists of khakis, blue shirts, white face coverings, baseball caps and sometimes body armor.

Patriot Front has used moving trucks like the one in Coeur d’Alene to transport their members in flash-mob-style demonstrations, according to other videos on social media that reportedly show Patriot Front members.

Although its founder, Rousseau, does not embrace overtly violent tactics, the group seeks to provoke violence and intimidation of minority groups through its racist propaganda, according to a 2019 investigation by ProPublica.