The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office released the names and pictures of the suspects on Sunday, one day after the group’s U-haul was intercepted by authorities at a traffic stop. The police, according to the Spokesman, had been tipped off about the group after a concerned citizen had reportedly called in about what they described as a “small army”.
Inside, officers had found the dozens of men dressed in matching outfits of khakis, blue shirts, beige hats and white cloths covering their faces and equipped with shields, shin guards, riot gear and a smoke grenade.
The sheriff’s office confirmed that among the 31 men arrested on Sunday was the founder of extremist hate group, Thomas R Rousseau. The Idaho-Statesman had reported earlier over the weekend that group’s founder was among the white nationalists who police in Coeur d’Alene found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck.
“They came to riot downtown,” the city’s police chief Lee White told a press conference on Saturday, adding that they came with documents “similar to an operations plan that a police or military group would put together for an event”.
The group’s members were charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor charge, and police said they had an “operations plan” with them.
The Anti-Defamation League describes the Patriot Front as a white nationalist group that specialises in vandalism, racist propaganda and “flash demonstrations” meant to intimidate marginalised communities.
The group’s founder, who is now in his early 20s, has been active in white supremacist ideology since he was a teenager, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Before creating the Patriot Front, he was a member of Vanguard America, another American white supremacist organisation that is also a member of the Nationalist Front.
In 2017, the same year he created the extremist group, he attended the Unite the Right march in Charlottesburg, Virginia, which saw violent clashes between far right groups and opposing protesters which resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer.
Mr Rousseau hails from Dallas, Texas originally, and the other men arrested over suspicions of inciting a riot had reportedly also travelled from across the country. All 31 were dressed in similar clothing, which was emblazoned with Patriot Front logos on their shirts and hats, police said.
Those arrested came from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia and other states as well, police said.
For some of the 31 men who were arrested over the weekend, this past weekend’s arrest wasn’t their first run-in with the law.
In March, 24-year-old Mitchell Wagner was charged with first-degree property damage after he was arrested for vandalising a mural on the Washington University campus that honours prominent figures from Black history with racist graffiti, according to KMOV4 News.
SPLC later identified Garret Garland, another memeber of the extremist group who was arrested over the weekend, as having assisted Mr Wagner in planning the vandalism that was done to the historic mural in December 2021.
Two of the men, Cameron Pruitt of Midway, Utah and Graham Whitson of Grapevine,Texas, were arrested for suspicion of criminal mischief alongside the group’s leader back in the summer of 2020 for placing stickers on signs, including one that read, “Reject Poison” with images of various drugs on it, according to Parker County Sheriff’s Office.
A spokesperson for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office told The Independent that the investigation has been taken over by the Coeur d’ Alene Police Department.
“All the people arrested have bonded out, so their future court date is unknown and gets set by the District Courts,” the sheriff’s office spokesperson said.
The Coeur d’ Alene Police Department was contacted by The Independent for comment but did not hear back before publication.
The names of the men arrested on Sunday are as follows:
- Jared Boyce
- Nathan Brenner
- Colton Brown
- Josiah Buster
- Mishael Buster
- Devin Center
- Dylan Corio
- Winston Durham
- Garret Garland
- Branden Haney
- Richard Jessop
- James M Johnson
- James J Johnson
- Kieran Morris
- Lawrence Norman
- Justin Oleary
- Cameron Pruitt
- Forrest Rankin
- Thomas Rousseau
- Conor Ryan
- Spencer Simpson
- Alexander Sisenstein
- Derek Smith
- Dakota Tabler
- Steven Tucker
- Wesley Van Horn
- Mitchell Wagner
- Nathaniel Whitfield
- Robert Whitted
- Graham Whitsom
- Connor Moran