COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Two men from the St. Louis region were arrested Saturday with 29 other men for allegedly plotting to start a riot at an Idaho gay pride event.
The Coeur d’Alene police stopped a U-Haul moving truck after receiving a tip from a concerned citizen who saw the men pile into the back of the vehicle dressed alike. Members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were found hiding in the rear of the U-Haul dressed in khaki pants, navy blue shirts, and beige hats.
Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said the men intended to start riots at a pride event in a nearby park and in the city’s downtown.
Twenty-four-year-old Mitchell Wagner of Florissant and 23-year-old Garret Garland of Freeburg, Illinois were arrested on the side of the road and charged with criminal conspiracy to riot. All 31 men are slated to be arraigned on Monday.
Back in March, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Wagner with allegedly defacing an African-American mural at Washington University by spraypainting the display with white supremacist messages. Wagner has been awaiting trial for that incident ever since.
Only one of the Patriot Front suspects is from Idaho. The others are from 11 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
Chief White said officers found riot gear, a smoke grenade, shin guards, and shields inside the moving truck. The men also had patches and logos on their hats identifying them as members of Patriot Front.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front formed in 2017, breaking off from the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America in the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally and subsequent riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. The group’s manifesto calls for a white ethnostate in the United States derived from individuals with a pan-European heritage.