Saturday, February 24, 2024

Patriot Front leader appears in Idaho court

Staff Writer | August 30, 2022 1:07 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — The leader of the white nationalist hate group Patriot Front pleaded not guilty Monday in Coeur d’Alene to a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to riot.

Thomas R. Rousseau, 23, of Grapevine, Texas, was one of four suspects who appeared before Judge Anna Eckhart via Zoom.

The other three are James M. Johnson of Sioux Falls, S.D.; Cameron K. Pruitt of Midway, Utah; and Wesley E. Van Horn of Lexington, Ala. They also pleaded not guilty.

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.

Patriot Front reportedly broke off from the neo-Nazi organization Vanguard America, after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in 2017.

Rousseau is known as Patriot Front’s founder and leader. The group’s manifesto reportedly calls for the formation of a white ethnostate in the United States.

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.

Rousseau reportedly told police he was in Coeur d’Alene to “peacefully exercise his First Amendment rights.”

He carried with him a document detailing “call locations, primary checkpoints, drill times, prep times and observation windows,” as well as GPS coordinates for a drop point and two backup plans, according to court records.

The document 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.