Calls grow for a tougher legal approach to white nationalist group Patriot Front

By Odette Yousef
NPR
Calls grow for a tougher legal approach to white nationalist group Patriot Front

Jury trials are getting underway for members of a white nationalist group accused of the misdemeanor count of conspiring to riot at an LGBTQ gathering and in downtown Coeur d’Alene in June.

Police stopped the 31 affiliates of Patriot Front after a caller tipped them off to seeing approximately 20 masked men load into a U-Haul truck at a hotel parking lot, looking “like a little army.”

In the vehicle, police also found metal shields, reinforced baseball caps, a smoke grenade and paperwork that appeared to show a master plan to riot.

But researchers say that in spite of the national attention that the arrests drew, Patriot Front has escalated its activities.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group posted more than 1,000 pieces of racist propaganda between June and the end of August. Members of Patriot Front also marched in Indianapolis. And in perhaps their most brazen public display, they swarmed in Boston in July, where they are accused of assaulting a Black man with shields.

“They are not afraid of the police,” said Kristopher Goldsmith, founder of a volunteer veterans organization called the Task Force Butler Institute, which researches far-right groups. “They’re not afraid of the justice system because in their entire history, when they act as an organization, they feel that they have overwhelmed law enforcement.”

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