Thursday, June 30, 2022

Vigilance, not violence, won the day

| June 15, 2022 1:00 AM

They wore balaclavas and ball caps, not white hoods.

Khakis and blue shirts, not white robes.

According to police, the 31 virulent visitors came to Coeur d’Alene on Saturday with one goal: To incite a riot. They’ve been identified as members of a white nationalist group called Patriot Front.

The judicial system will determine what’s to become of the invaders, all but two of whom are not Idaho residents. Some citizens will be disappointed in the legal outcome because the planned riot never happened. But there’s cause for optimism.

Other than a couple of arrests at City Park for trespassing and disorderly conduct — reportedly, Oregon residents, not locals — the Pride in the Park event was celebrated without incident. That’s saying something, as a powderkeg fuse could easily have been lit.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White had laid out a clear plan for the day, with Pride in the Park and Gun d’Alene participants gathering so close together. His department’s mission was to ensure both groups were free to exercise their First Amendment rights within the full breadth of the law — but not beyond. Both groups deserve credit for keeping the peace.

Police maintained an appropriate presence throughout the day, acting as a deterrent to those with ill intent and as a protective force for those acting within the law. Well done.

But a very different end to this story may have been written, according to Chief White, revealing a key plot twist.

“I don’t think this would have been as successful had we not had one extremely astute citizen who saw something that looked very concerning to them and reported it to us,” he said.

Cheers to you, whoever you are. You may have saved lives.

CDA PD, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police all were involved in rounding up the potential rioters without any injuries reported. That kind of teamwork in this age of volatility is impressive. Its template bodes well for the future.

On Saturday, love won.

The MVP award, though, goes to law enforcement.

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