COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Five members of the white nationalist hate group Patriot Front were convicted Thursday of misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot at a Pride event.
A Kootenai County jury found Forrest Rankin, Devin Center, Derek Smith, James Julius Johnson and Robert Whitted guilty after about an hour of deliberation, news outlets reported.
A total of 31 Patriot Front members, including one identified as its founder, were arrested June 11, 2022, after someone reported seeing people loading into a U-Haul van like “a little army” at a hotel parking lot in Coeur d’Alene, police have said.
Police found riot gear, a smoke grenade, shin guards and shields inside the van after pulling it over near where the North Idaho Pride Alliance was holding a Pride in the Park event, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White has said.
Documents found with the group reportedly outlined a plan to form a column outside City Park and proceed inward, “until barriers to approach are met.” Once “an appropriate amount of confrontational dynamic had been established,” the column would disengage and head down Sherman Avenue.
Those arrested came from at least 11 states, including Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia and Arkansas.
Rioting is generally a misdemeanor in Idaho. Conspiracy to riot is punishable by up to one year in jail, as well as a $5,000 fine and up to two years of probation. The five men are scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.
This story has been updated to correct James Johnson’s middle name to Julius, not Michael.