The caller told 911 sender that he had seen a large group affiliated with the Patriotic Front – rioting in a hotel inside U-Haul. Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said they were later abducted and arrested.
Police said the group went to the Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene City Park. The event featured performances by Pride Walk and local musicians, dancers and drag artists.
Mayor Jim Hammond said local and state police were plentiful and were on high alert Saturday because they wanted to “make sure the incident happened safely.” They received threats about a separate group meeting in another city park; He said the threats were baseless.
Hammond referred to the detainees as young people, who “seem to be aimless.” Asked what he thought the group would have done if the police had not thwarted their alleged plans, he said, “I do not see these people having guns, so I think it’s mostly trying to cause disruption and fear.”
Police found at least one smoke bullet, White said.
Hammond previously said all 31 people were from outside the local area. According to a booking summary by the Coalition District Sheriff’s Office, there are only two from Idaho.
It is not clear why they chose Coir de Alene out of all the Pride events taking place in the country, but in a small community like Coir de Alene, a city of 56,000 people, they may have thought they could “get a lot more,” Hammond said. Residents near the Washington border from Spokane.
The North Idaho Pride Alliance, which organized the event, released a statement on Sunday stating that its members are “relaxing after successfully organizing an important, happy and safe celebration of the Park Community in a very challenging environment……. Thanks.”
Here is what we learned about the detainees:
Police were informed that there was a group dressed as ‘little army’.
There was a large police presence at the Pride event after authorities received information that “there are too many groups” to disrupt Saturday’s activities, White said.
White said Monday that police had no information that members of the Patriotic Front were coming.
“We had some information that there might be some individuals loosely affiliated with some of the groups who were planning to protest the Pride event that day, so we had enough staff, but we had nothing. The intelligence said that a riot group was coming to the event before the 911 call that came to us,” he said. He said.
The concerned citizen called police on Saturday afternoon to complain that “about 20 people jumped into the U-Haul” in the local hotel parking lot, the leader said.
The group was fitted with shields and masks and “looked like a small army,” the caller said, according to White.
About 10 minutes after the call, authorities stopped U-Haul and detained 31 people, White said. They have been charged with conspiracy to commit riot, he said.
The chief said the group wore khaki pants, a blue shirt and plastic hats, as well. They were fitted with papers describing White as “shields, jaw guards and other riot shields” and “like a police or military team’s action plan for an event.”
“Based on the gear the individuals had, the items they had in U-Haul with them, and the documents seized from them, it is clear to us that they came to the Downtown riots.” Said White.
“I think some of us were a little surprised not only by the level of production we saw, but also by the equipment that those individuals carried and wore, and the large quantities of equipment that remained in the van at the stop,” White told a news conference on Monday.
“That amount of product is not something you see every day,” the chief said.
White said the city, state and Coalition district police responded with two SWAT teams.
“I do not think it would have been so successful if we did not have a very intelligent citizen. He found something very relevant to them and told us about it,” he said.
Authorities have not released the identity of the caller to protect the person, White said.
“I think it is appropriate that we cover up this person’s information at this time, as I have received threats, including death threats, against me and other members of our organization,” the chief minister said.
The Cooperative District Sheriff’s Office said they were released after the bond was filed. They will be produced in court again.
According to the sheriff’s office booking summary, the individuals come from a dozen states. Seven are from Texas, six are from Utah, five are from Washington and three are from Colorado. One is from Alabama. The summary states that the youngest is 20 years old and the oldest is 40 years old.
Coeur d’Alene police are investigating with the help of the FBI, FBI Spokeswoman Sandra Yi Barker.
Authorities say police have arrested at least two people in connection with the Pride incident. Police said they have been charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing.
Men associated with the white nationalist group, police say
In addition to clothing associated with the Patriotic Front, most men had logos with “compliant with the Patriotic Front group” on their hats, and some wore handcuffs associated with the organization, White said.
The Texas-based group was formed following the 2017 United the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when the white supremacist Vanguard Americans split to form their own organization, ADL says.
Among those arrested Saturday were Thomas Ryan Rousseau, leader of the Patriotic Front, and the County Sheriff’s Sergeant. Said Shane Molin.
During the United the Right rally, Rousseau Vanguard led dozens of members of the United States Texas, and later led a group of VA members to form the Patriotic Front.
CNN approached Rousseau’s lawyer, but did not immediately respond.
“We are not going back to the days of the Aryan nations,” Hammond told a news conference on Monday.
“We have overcome it and will do everything we can to ensure that we continue to address issues like this,” the mayor said. “We have a culture of love and compassion. We will continue.”
Elliott C. of CNN. McLaughlin, Andy Rose, Joe Sutton, Raja Rasek and Theresa Waltrop contributed to the report.