After the arrest of more than two dozen members of a white supremacy group near a pride event in northern Idaho, including one identified as its founder, LGBTQ advocates said Sunday that polarization and a harsh political climate are exposing their community greater risk.
The 31 members of the Patriotic Front were arrested with anti-riot equipment after Tipster said he saw people boarding the U-Haul as a “small army” in the parking lot of a hotel in Coeur d’Alen, Idaho. the police.
Among those jailed on riot charges is Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas, who was identified by the Southern Legal Center for Poverty as the 23-year-old who founded the group after the deadly “United Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. A lawyer was not immediately named and his phone numbers went unanswered on Sunday.
Among those arrested was Mitchell F. Wagner, a 24-year-old from Florisant, Missouri, who was previously accused of damaging a mural of famous black Americans at St. Louis College last year.
Michael Kilty, Wagner’s lawyer, said Sunday that he had not been provided with information about the allegations. He said the Patriotic Front had no reputation for violence and that the case could be a matter of the First Amendment. “Even if you don’t like the speech, they have the right to do it,” he said.
The Patriot Front is a neo-Nazi white supremacist group whose members see black Americans, Jews and LGBTQ people as enemies, said John Lewis, a researcher at George Washington University who specializes in domestic violent extremism.
Their textbook, Lewis said, includes identifying local complaints to use, organizing platforms such as the Telegram messaging app, and ultimately showing events marching in neat columns, in blue or white-collar uniforms, in a show of force. .
Although Pride celebrations have long been picketed by counter-protesters, citing religious objections, they have historically not been a major focus for armed extremist groups. However, it is not surprising, given that anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is increasingly becoming a powerful cry in the far-right online ecosystem, Lewis said.
“This set of complaints fits into their broader stories and shows their ability to mobilize the same people against the ‘enemy’ over and over again,” he said.
The arrests come amid a wave of accused LGBTQ rhetoric and a wave of state legislation targeting transgender youth, said John McCrosty, the first openly gay man elected to the Idaho legislature. In Boise this week, dozens of Pride flags were stolen from city streets.
“Whenever we face hate attacks, we must respond with a message from the community that we embrace all people with all our differences,” McCrosty said in a text message.
Sunday also marked six years of mass shootings that killed 49 people at the Pulse LGBTQ Club in Orlando, said Troy Williams of Equality Utah in Salt Lake City.
“Our nation is becoming increasingly polarized and the result is tragic and deadly,” he said.
Authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area are investigating a possible hate crime after a group of men allegedly shouted homophobic and anti-LGBTQ insults during the Drag Queen Story Hour weekend at the San Lorenzo Library on Saturday. No one has been arrested, no one has been physically injured, and authorities are investigating the incident as possible harassment of children.
At the Coeur d’Alene on Saturday, police found riot gear, a smoke grenade, shin guards and shields inside the van after stopping it near a park where the Northern Idaho Pride Alliance was hosting a Pride in the Park event. Coeur d’Alene That’s what police chief Lee White said.
The group came to revolt around a small town in northern Idaho, wearing Patriot Front stickers and logos on their hats and some T-shirts that read “Get America Back,” according to police and videos of the arrests posted on social media.
The detainees came from at least 11 states, including Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia and Arkansas.
Although there is a history of far-right extremism dating back decades in northern Idaho, White said only one of those arrested on Saturday was from the state.
The six-hour Pride event continued on schedule, including booths, food, live music, a drag show and a march of more than 50 people, Idaho Statesman said.
“We’ve been through so much, so much,” Jessica Mahuron of the Northern Idaho Pride Alliance, which is hosting the event, told KREM-TV. “Harassment and attempts at intimidation on a psychological level, and the truth is that if you allow yourself to be intimidated, you let them win, and what we have shown today is that you will not win.”
The group is expected to face charges Monday.
Whitehurst and Metz reported from Salt Lake City. Associated Press writer Martha Belisle contributed to the report.
Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
The leader of the Patriotic Front among those arrested near Idaho Pride
Source link The leader of the Patriotic Front among those arrested near Idaho Pride