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Patriot Front suspects appear in court

Staff Writer | August 16, 2022 1:06 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Four more members of the white nationalist hate group Patriot Front pleaded not guilty Monday in Coeur d’Alene to misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot.

The men are among the 31 Patriot Front members accused of planning to violently disrupt a Pride celebration on June 11 in Coeur d’Alene City Park.

Those who appeared before Judge Mayli Walsh via Zoom are Devin W. Center of Fayetteville, Ark., James J. Johnson of Concrete, Wash. and Lawrence A. Norman of Prospect, Ore.

Spencer T. Simpson, 20, of Ellensburg, Wash., appeared in person. He is the only Patriot Front member so far to appear physically in a Kootenai County courtroom.

Simpson’s father told The Seattle Times in June that he didn’t know his son was part of Patriot Front until he read about the mass arrest.

Founded after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in 2017, Patriot Front’s manifesto reportedly calls for the formation of a white ethnostate in the United States.

Simpson allegedly told his father that he intends to remain with Patriot Front “no matter what.”

Police arrested the group June 11, after a tipster reported seeing a “little army” with metal shields and other gear piling into the back of a U-Haul truck.

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.

Rioting is generally a misdemeanor in Idaho. Conspiracy to riot is punishable by up to one year in jail, as well as by a $5,000 fine and up to two years of probation.