Leader of white supremacist neo-Nazi group Patriot Front among 31 arrested at Idaho Pride

Patriot Front founder Thomas Rousseau

Thomas Rousseau, who founded the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front, was among those arrested for conspiracy to riot at a Pride event in Idaho.

On Saturday (11 June), 31 people packed into the back of a U-Haul truck were arrested near the North Idaho Pride Alliance’s Coeur d’Alene Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The arrests were prompted by a tip from a concerned citizen, who reported “a little army” decked out in riot gear jumping into the truck.

Coeur d’Alene police discovered that the group was affiliated with the neo-Nazi organisation Patriot Front by their uniforms and documents found inside the van. All 31 men, from states across the US, were arrested for conspiracy to riot.

On Monday (13 June), the 31 suspects were identified by officials, who also reported that the police department had been received death threats since their arrest.

Among those arrested was Thomas Rousseau, 23, who led violent extremists at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, after which he founded Patriot Front.

Rousseau began developing his right-wing views in high school, while a journalist for his student newspaper. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he wrote columns supporting guns on college campuses and anti-trans “bathroom bills”.

As a teenager, he joined the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America and, by 2017, he was leading groups at the Virginia Unite the Right rally, where a woman was killed after white supremacist James Alex Fields intentionally drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Following Unite the Right, Rousseau split from Vanguard America and formed his own neo-Nazi group – Patriot Front.

The group has expressed homophobic, transphobic, antisemitic and racist views, and advocates for the US to become a white ethnostate.

The 31 men arrested in Idaho were bailed out on Sunday (12 June) by anonymous donors.

Patriot Front member says group headed for Idaho Pride event because LGBTQ+ people are ‘groomers’

Another Patriot Front member arrested in Idaho, Jared Michael Boyce from Utah, reportedly said that the group had attended the Pride event because “they’re grooming kids”.

Boyce’s mother, Karen Amsden, told the Daily Beast that her son had showed up on her doorstep after being bailed out of jail.

She said he told her: “Don’t believe the media, mom. We were just there because they’re grooming kids.”

Amsden believes her son was radicalised and joined Patriot Front while in a vulnerable state after his dad left their family and came out as gay.

“He’s so misguided and bought into all their rhetoric,” she said. “It just makes me sick.”

Amsden said she asked her son to make a choice.

“I told him, ‘Well, then you can’t live here. You can choose between Patriot Front and your family,'” she told the Daily Beast.

“And he’s like, ‘Well, I can’t quit Patriot Front.’ I’m like, ‘Well, then you’ve just chosen. So pack your stuff and get out of my house.'”

“I would love to do whatever I can to out him [as a Patriot Front member] so that he can’t be a part of it,” she added.

“And that they don’t want him to be a part of their group because his mom has loose lips and a big mouth and he’s never going to get away with anything.”