Police Foil Alleged Plan To Disrupt Pride Event; Seven Texans Charged With Conspiracy to Riot

Pride sign at 2021 event in Stuttgart, Germany
Pride sign at 2021 event in Stuttgart, Germany Photo by Raphael Renter on Unsplash
Seven Texans were arrested on June 11 in Idaho, taken from the back of a U-Haul van along with 24 other members of the white nationalist group, allegedly on their way to start a riot at a Pride event.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front is a white nationalist hate organization that broke off from Vanguard America, a neo-Nazi group, after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

The SPLC website calls them an “image-obsessed organization” having the “explicitly fascist agenda of Vanguard America with a garnish of patriotism.”

The khaki-clad group was pulled over packed in the back of the U-Haul van on their way to Coeur d’Alene carrying riot gear, a smoke grenade and other riot equipment. They were all subsequently charged with the misdemeanor of conspiracy to riot.

Among those arrested was one of the group’s founding members, Thomas Ryan Rousseau, 23, from Grapevine.

Rousseau was a writer for his student newspaper in Coppell High School and continued writing fascist hate speech throughout his life within white supremacy groups, according to the SPLC.

After Trump won the 2016 presidential election, he wrote that the “silent majority is no longer silent” and “that they have not yet been replaced by the tens of millions of blue-voting immigrants from abroad.”

The other Texans included in Saturday’s arrests were Robert Benjamin Whitted, 22; Connor Patrick Moran, 23; Josiah Daniel Buster, 24; Kieran Padraig Morris, 27; Steven Derrick Tucker, 30; and Graham Jones Whitson, 31.

The other 24 men travelled from nine other states, with only one person being from Idaho.

The police were able to stop the vehicle before reaching the Pride event because of a call from a tip from someone who saw them getting into the van in a hotel parking lot.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said that the caller said they “looked like a little army” when getting into the U-Haul.

But according to NPR, they were not the only group opposed to the Pride gathering. There was a Christian nationalist group with affiliates of the white nationalists of America First, a motorcycle group that encouraged members to bring firearms, other men walking around with long guns and handguns, as well as another conservative Christian group singing religious songs.

The Coeur d’Alene police presence prevented any major harm from coming to the Pride event attendees.

“Law enforcement really came through today,” said Jessica Mahuron, organizer of the event and outreach director at the North Idaho Pride Alliance. “I think this is a really important message and also a healing message that’s needed in this country.”
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Kate Pezzulli, an editorial fellow for the Observer, is a graduate student at the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT. Besides storytelling, she likes sailing, working on Jeeps, camping, potting and baking. Voted No. 1 friend in an apocalypse.
Contact: Kate Pezzulli