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Group allegedly affiliated with Patriot Front had protective gear, detailed operational plans, police say

By Cheri Mossburg, CNN

The people believed to be affiliated with White nationalist group Patriot Front arrested in Idaho over the weekend appear to have been well-prepared with detailed plans and protective gear to “antagonize and cause disorder” at the Coeur d’Alene Pride event on Saturday, according to a new court filing.

Among the items seized in the arrests of 31 men who piled into a U-Haul box truck, were documents taken from the group leader, Thomas Rousseau, outlining the hate group’s moral intentions, and an operational plan, as detailed in an affidavit of probable cause filed Monday in Kootenai County District Court.

“(One) document was typed and discussed the group being there to raise a voice against the moral depravity which permits events such as this to take place,” writes Coeur d’Alene Police Officer Alan Gilbert. “There was also a typed organizational document outlining call locations, primary checkpoints, drill times, prep times and observation windows. There were also GPS coordinates for a drop point with two backup plans.”

According to Gilbert’s probable cause declaration, the group’s plan was intended to “antagonize and cause disorder” and outlines an exit strategy to be implemented “once an appropriate amount of time and confrontational dynamic has been established.”

Only two men questioned by police openly admitted to being part of the Patriot Front, an officer stated.

Items taken into evidence from the box truck and one other vehicle believed to be associated with the group included “fashioned metal shields, flags on abnormally long metal poles and voice amplification type devices,” according to the affidavit. A smoke bomb/grenade was also recovered.

In addition to being dressed similarly in khaki cargo pants, navy blue T-shirts adorned with Patriot Front patches, and face masks, hats, and sunglasses, several of the men tucked “a hard plastic type insert, inside the hat, similar to a hard hat worn by constructions workers,” the declaration states. Several men wore plastic shin guards and other protective gear and others carried tactical medical kits, radios, and cameras and digital recording devices on their persons.

“The adorned equipment was similar in nature to our law enforcement riot control equipment utilized when we are anticipating a physical altercation,” Gilbert writes in the court document.

CNN has reached out to the Patriot Front and people believed to be associated with Rousseau but has not heard back. CNN has also not been able to identify legal representation for Rousseau at this time.

The men were released after posting bail, online court records and inmate rosters show, and are due back in court at a later date. Most are from out of state, including Rousseau, who is from Texas, according to the affidavit.

His next court date has been scheduled for August 1, according to online court records.

Group split from another after Charlottesville rally

The Patriot Front believes their White ancestors conquered America and “bequeathed it to them,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. Members espouse fascist and anti-Semitic beliefs, which they spread through propaganda campaigns, the ADL says.

The Texas-based group was formed following the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when members of the White supremacist group, Vanguard America, split off to form their own organization, the ADL says.

The 31 men were arrested after someone saw them gathering near a Pride parade and called 911 to report a group dressed like a “little army” getting into a moving truck.

The group was headed to a Pride in the Park event at Coeur d’Alene City Park, police have said. The event included a Pride walk and performances by local musicians, dancers and drag artists.

Local and state police were plentiful and on high alert Saturday because they wanted “to make sure this event went off safely,” Mayor Jim Hammond told CNN’s New Day on Monday.

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CNN’s Steve Almasy, Andy Rose and Elizabeth Wolfe contributed to this report.

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