Coeur d’Alene police received numerous death threats and warnings that officers would be doxxed in the aftermath of the department’s Saturday arrest of 31 men suspected of being members of the white nationalist “Patriot Front” group and accused of conspiring to riot in the city.
Police Chief Lee White said his department was going through about 150 voicemails, about half of which contained ominous messages directed at law enforcement, including the doxxing threat of publicly posting the private information of police officers, such as their addresses and names of family members. The calls came from all over, including from as far away as Norway, he said.
The 31 suspected members of Patriot Front were discovered in the back of a U-Haul truck with a smoke grenade, riot gear and a strategic document detailing their would-be plans while apparently on their way to Saturday’s Pride event in Coeur d’Alene’s City Park.
“I think some of us were a bit surprised by not only the level of preparation that we saw, but the equipment that was curated and worn by those individuals, along with a large amount of equipment that was left in the (truck) when the stop happened,” White said. “That level of preparation is not something you see everyday.”
It was very clear immediately that “this was a riotous group that prepared well in advance” to disrupt the events taking place in downtown Coeur d’Alene, White said.
The group’s plans were foiled after a concerned citizen tipped off police that the men were climbing into the back of the truck. Law enforcement made a “command decision” to stop the truck from reaching downtown, White said.
The arrests happened less than a quarter-mile from City Park.
“I have no doubt in my mind that if they had stopped in downtown or nearby there would have been a riot,” he said.
White said the arrests wouldn’t have happened without the help of the concerned citizen and encouraged the community to report suspicious activity in the future.
In addition to the U-Haul truck, White said other vehicles were seized, but did not provide more details. There were no firearms in the U-Haul, police said.
Patriot Front has used moving trucks in the past in “flash demonstrations.” The group is known for spreading patriotism-tinged racist propaganda and vandalism meant to intimidate minority groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“We hadn’t had any issue with that group previously,” White said of Patriot Front. “There were a number of us aware of this group because we had seen a video online or were being mentioned in relation to another subset of hate groups in this area, but I had never seen that type of activity in my eight years working in this city.”
White denied any rumors that there were law enforcement agents who had infiltrated the Patriot Front that day.
“These were not law enforcement officers,” he said. “These were not antifa in disguise, nor were they FBI members in disguise.”
Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White, second from left, takes questions from the media during a press conference about the arrest of 31 members of the Patriot Front nationalist group in the Coeur d’Alene Library Monday, June 13, 2022. Mayor Jim Hammond listens at far left. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
White said the group likely came to Coeur d’Alene as a result of the heated rhetoric that was sparked last month between the Pride in the Park event and members of the Panhandle Patriots group. A video surfaced last month of one of the Panhandle Patriots’ members saying they needed to “go head-to-head” with the Pride event.
Each of the 31 men who were arrested bonded out of jail on $300 by Monday morning. First appearances were not scheduled for any of those accused of misdemeanor criminal conspiracy to riot.
Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond told reporters the recent events don’t define the city and that Coeur d’Alene remains a welcoming place for all people.
“We are the same city that we were last week,” Hammond said. “We are not going back to the days of the Aryan Nations. We are past that.”
Emma Epperly can be reached at (509) 459-5122 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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