April 24, 2024

Patriot Front members convicted of threatening Idaho Pride spend three days in jail for conspiracy to riot

Five members of a neo-fascist hate group who planned to disrupt a Pride event in Idaho last year will spend three days in jail after a jury convicted them of conspiracy to riot.

The men – Devin Centre, Forrest Rankin, Robert Whitted, James Johnson and Derek Smith – were found guilty by a six-person jury on July 20 after an hour of deliberation following a three-day trial.

On June 11, 2022, police arrested 31 members of the Patriot Front blocks away from the annual Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, after calls to 911 identified a group of people getting out of a UHaul box truck in military formation.

They carried shields, metal flagpoles, shin guards and at least one smoke grenade. Paperwork inside the truck appeared to indicate plans for a riot, according to police, and the men came from more than a dozen states, including some as far away as Colorado and Texas.

The men were arrested on charges of conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and $5,000 in fines. They pleaded not guilty.

Under the sentence handed down on July 21, the men will spend three days in jail and have one year of unsupervised probation. They are only allowed to go within two miles of Coeur d’Alene City Park during that time.

Because the probation is unsupervised, those men are able to leave the state.

Images provided by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office show, top row from left, James Johnson, Forrest Rankin, Robert Whitted. Devin Center and Derek Smith are in the bottom row from left.

(AP)

Despite the massive arrests of its members in Idaho, Patriot Front’s presence across the US has not diminished.

The group, which first emerged from the split of another white nationalist group after the deadly shooting in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, has been responsible for the vast majority of “hate propaganda” efforts in subsequent years, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which designates Patriot Front as a hate group.

Over the past few years, Patriot Front has made its physical presence known at demonstrations and rallies across the country.

A month after the arrests in Coeur d’Alene, a Black artist was attacked during the Patriot Front march in Boston. This year, members marched in Indianapolis, protested a drawn-out brunch in Tennessee, and, in a grim display in the nation’s capital, marched in Washington DC.

A report from the Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD More than 350 targeted threats against LGBT+ people in the past year from a wide variety of anti-LGBT+ groups, including online harassment as well as armed protests at drag shows, bomb scares against hospitals that provide gender-affirming health care, and other acts of violence, including a mass shooting inside a Colorado Springs LGBT+ nightclub, have been reported.

Incidents targeting drag performers and the people and venues that host them have increased across the US, and similar threats have surfaced in the UK, according to a recent separate report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

The group collected 203 online and offline threatening incidents that specifically focused on tow events over the past year.

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