Five members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front were convicted on Thursday of conspiracy to riot at a local pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, last year, court officials said.
After about an hour of deliberation, a jury in Kootenai County District Court found Devon Center, 24, of Arkansas; James Johnson, 37, of Washington; Forrest Rankin, 29, of Texas; Derek Smith, 25, of South Dakota; and Robert Whitted, 23, of Texas; guilty of conspiring to riot, a misdemeanor, said Pete Barnes, the jury commissioner for Kootenai County.
Judge James D. Stow sentenced each of the men to five days in jail with two of the days credited, and one year of unsupervised probation, according to court documents.
The judge also fined the men $1,000 each and barred them from being within two miles of Coeur d’Alene City Park, where the pride event was held on June 11, 2022.
Conspiracy to riot is punishable by up to one year in jail, a maximum $5,000 fine and up to two years of probation. Lawyers for the men did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
The Coeur d’Alene police, with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police, arrested 31 members of the far-right group after they tried to disrupt the event, called “Pride in the Park,” hosted by the North Idaho Pride Alliance.
The authorities attributed the arrest to a tip from a “concerned citizen,” who had seen people jumping into a U-Haul van headed toward the area.
According to planning documents shared with The New York Times, the men in the van had planned to form into “columns” around the park, moving inward until “barriers to approach” were met.
The group had then planned to continue pressing inward until “an appropriate amount of confrontational dynamic had been established,” the document said.
The men who were arrested all wore khaki pants and arm patches to the event, the police said at the time, as well as hats embroidered with the Patriot Front logo, consisting of a fasces encircled by 13 stars.
Many had shields and wore shinguards, the authorities said, adding that they had also recovered a smoke grenade during the arrests.
After the arrests, the Kootenai County District Court opted to try the 31 members in smaller batches, Mr. Barnes said, citing the logistical difficulties of having them all in one courtroom.
“These particular five were just the first ones picked to go through the process,” he said, adding that the remaining men were “in various stages of the court system.”
Prosecutors for the city of Coeur d’Alene could not immediately be reached for comment.
Among the arrested members was Thomas Rousseau, the founder of Patriot Front, who has been scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 22, according to jail records.
One member pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace and was sentenced in November to two years of unsupervised probation and fined $500, according to The Coeur d’Alene Press.
Patriot Front, which is based in Texas, formed after splitting off from the white supremacist organization Vanguard America, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The group is keen to create viral moments, and generally adorn masks, khaki pants and polo shirts, the A.D.L. said. Members are also known to deploy smoke bombs.
The Coeur d’Alene police had said last year that the Patriot Front members arrested were from several states, including Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. At least one lived in Idaho, they said.
Sarah Lynch, executive director of the North Idaho Pride Alliance, said that the nonprofit and the entire Coeur d’Alene community were grateful to the “concerned citizen who alerted law enforcement of Patriot Front activities” on the day of the event last year.
“We’ve held great trust in our justice system as they work through this process of holding accountable those who seek to threaten our First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly,” she said.
Chang Che is the Asia technology correspondent for The Times. He previously worked for The China Project and as a freelance writer covering Chinese technology and society. More about Chang Che
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