On Saturday, June 11 a group of white supremacists were arrested at Pride In The Park, an annual event held by North Idaho Pride Alliance. The group of 31 men were all members of Patriot Front and were charged with conspiracy to riot, reports The New York Times.
THE OUTCOME COULD HAVE BEEN A LOT MORE TROUBLING
In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Pride In The Park is a family-friendly event that celebrates unity and diversity. The North Idaho Pride Alliance had to take a hiatus for two years considering restrictions, but 2022 saw the return of their signature event.
The day was disturbed after a witness called in suspicious activity when they saw dozens of masked men in army attire load into a U-Haul near an intersection close to Pride In The Park, reports The New York Times. “And they were all dressed like a small army. We had units in their area, and we were able to intercept them pretty quickly,” says Sheriff Bob Norris of the Kootenai County.
The 31 men have all bee identified as member of the alt-right white supremacist group Patriot Front. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the group is an off-shoot of disaffected members from Vanguard America – another supremacist group. Patriot Front was formed in 2017 after the Unite the Right rally in Virginia and has since gained notoriety for creating and posting disruptions that include flash-demonstrations and employ smoke bombs.
According to Chief Lee White of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department told The New York Times that there had been significant online chatter among alt-right and extreme left groups leading up to the Pride event. No evidence has surfaced regarding how many of these groups were involved with Patriot Front’s plans, if there were any.
THEY WERE LOOKING TO SEED FEAR
What the members of Patriot Front were aiming to achieve is not entirely clear, but the result of their actions if left unthwarted would have been unbridled chaos and potentially traumatic experiences for attendees.
Chief White says, “There were people walking around the event with long guns and handguns and bear spray and all kinds of things like that… that is legal in Idaho.” With the presence of both the left and right wing factions, an escalation of Patriot Front’s actions is completely likely.
Despite being arrested on conspiracy charges, the men were still able to create an environment of unease. Future Pride events are now subject to similar plans of disruption. The LGBTQIA+ community uses Pride as a way to honour our progress but to also demonstrate our tenacity.
Pride events were historically held under the harshest and most unwelcoming reception and thankfully things have changed. But it’s pertinent to remember that strength when people like those arrested still seek to make us hide away.