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Despite Threats, City Stands Firm After Patriot Front Arrests

Coeur d'Alene won't go 'back to the days of the Aryan Nations,' mayor says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2022 7:05 PM CDT
Despite Threats, City Stands Firm After Patriot Front Arrests
Authorities arrest members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near an Idaho pride event Saturday, after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear.   (Georji Brown via AP)

(Newser) – At one point Monday, the police department in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, had received almost 150 calls from the public about the arrests of 31 men connected to a white supremacist group who were headed to an LGBTQ+ event in town. About half of the calls were congratulatory, NBC News reports, with people saying they're proud of the department for the Patriot Front arrests. Those callers gave their names. The other half came from people who wanted "nothing more than to scream and yell at us and use some really choice words—offer death threats against myself and other members of the police department merely for doing our jobs," Chief Lee White said. "Those people obviously remain anonymous."

Among the men pulled out of a rental truck Saturday and arrested was Thomas Ryan Rousseau, who the Southern Poverty Law Center says founded the Patriot Front after the violent "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Another was Mitchell F. Wagner of Florissant, Missouri, who had been charged with defacing a mural in 2021 of famous Black Americans at a college in St. Louis, per Politico. The group planned to riot downtown, White said. Jon Lewis of George Washington University said the Patriot Front is a white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization whose members consider Black Americans, Jews, and LGBTQ people to be their enemies.

The group may have picked the wrong town. Residents and businesses for years have rallied around the idea that Coeur d'Alene is "too great to hate." Mayor Jim Hammond said the Southern Poverty Law Center once helped the Idaho city rid itself of an Aryan Nations compound nearby, per CNN. "We are not going to back to the days of the Aryan Nations," Hammond said at a news conference Monday, adding, "We are a culture of love and kindness, and we will continue to be." (Read more Idaho stories.)

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