Idaho jury finds 5 members of white nationalist group guilty of criminal conspiracy to riot at Pride event

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Five members of the white nationalist hate group Patriot Front were convicted Thursday of misdemeanor charges of conspiring to riot at a Pride event.

A Kootenai County jury found Forrest Rankin, Devin Center, Derek Smith, James Michael Johnson and Robert Whitted guilty after about an hour of deliberation, media reported.

A total of 31 members of the Patriot Front, including one identified as its founder, were arrested on June 11, 2022, after someone reported seeing people loading into a U-Haul van like “a small army” in a hotel parking lot in Coeur d’Alene, police said.

Police found riot gear, a smoke grenade, shin guards and shields inside the van after parking it near where the North Idaho Pride Alliance was hosting a Pride in the Park event, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said.

Documents found with the group allegedly described a plan to form a column outside the municipal park and continue inward, “until the obstacles to the approach are overcome”. Once “an appropriate amount of confrontational momentum had been established”, the column would disengage and move towards Sherman Avenue.

Those arrested came from at least 11 states, including Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia and Arkansas.

Riots are generally a misdemeanor in Idaho. Conspiracy to riot is punishable by one year in prison, as well as a $5,000 fine and two years probation. The five men are due to be sentenced on Friday.

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