Police arrested 31 men found inside a U-Haul truck near a pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Saturday. Police said they believe the men were affiliated with a white supremacist group and were intending to riot.
“It is clear to us, based on the gear the individuals had with them … along with paperwork that we seized from them, that they came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said Saturday at a press conference .
According to White, police were alerted about the U-Haul around 1:38 pm by a concerned citizen who said they saw members of the group getting into the back of the truck. The group was confronted by police about 10 minutes later, White said.
The men were seen in videos posted to social media all wearing khakis, navy blue shirts, beige hats, and cloth facial coverings. The outfit is similar to what is worn by Patriot Front, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a white supremacist group. White said at least one of the men had an arm patch that said “Patriot Front,” and others had hats with logos “consistent” with those used by the group.
Police also found shields inside the U-Haul and at least one smoke grenade, White said.
All 31 men are being charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor, and further charges “might be pending,” White said.
“In my opinion, I would gladly arrest 31 individuals who are coming to riot in our city for a misdemeanor, rather than have them participate in some sort of seriously disruptive event, which is exactly what they were planning in the downtown area,” White said.
White also said the group wasn’t just planning to cause a disruption at a nearby park, where a pride event was being held, but that police had information that indicated they would attempt to riot in other areas as well.
He did not go into detail about the paperwork that police recovered from the group, but said it “appeared to be very similar to an operations plan that a police or military group would put together for an event.”
White said the men came from several different states. They apparently all met up in the parking lot of a hotel, where they loaded themselves into the U-Haul.