Members of the group — who all appeared to be white men — were crammed into a U-Haul truck and were discovered when it was pulled over by police who had received a tip from a “concerned citizen.”
The tipster saw the members of the white supremacist organization — which “looked like a little army” — loading into the truck with masks and shields, according to officials. Police also found shin guards, at least one smoke bomb, and what was described as an “operations plan,” which officials declined to detail. They wore arm bands and hat patches saying “Patriot Front,” according to police.
The members were nabbed close to an area where a Coeur d’Alene LGBTQ Pride event was taking place. Photos and video from the scene when they were arrested show the members dressed almost identically in khakis, navy blue shirts, beige hats, and a white cloth covering their faces. Some of the T-shirts included slogans such as “Reclaim America.”
“They came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said at a news conference (see the video up top). All have been charged with conspiracy to riot.
White said police had received information for days that there were plans by various right-wing extremists to disrupt Pride events in town. Consequently, there was a strong police contingent on duty, and the arrests were made without incident, he said. He thanked the “extremely astute citizen” who alerted police about the men.
White said he personally did not see firearms, but the search was just beginning, including at a hotel where the men were staying. He also said local police officials were in contact with the FBI “all day.”
Based on material collected from the truck, the men planned to riot in a number of locations, according to police.
“It appears they did not come here to engage in peaceful events,” Kootenai County Sheriff Robert Norris told the Coeur d’Alene Press.
The North Idaho News later Saturday listed the names of 18 of those arrested following an interview with White after processing. They’re being held in the Kootenai County Jail and are scheduled to appear in court on Monday.
Norris emphasized at the news conference that information was only preliminary and that an investigation was continuing into any other possible activities the group may have been plotting.
Those arrested came from at least 11 states: Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia and Arkansas.