LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. — Thirty-one men, including one man from North Alabama, were arrested in Idaho over the weekend for conspiracy to riot. Authorities say they were part of a white nationalist group who planned to stop an LGBTQ+ Pride Month celebration.
Investigators say the arrested men were members of a group called “The Patriot Front,” an organization responsible for the most recent demonstrations of white supremacist groups in Idaho.
Susan Corke, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Intelligence Project, says white supremacist groups like these are beginning to target younger, college-aged men to join their groups.
“They believe race is the basis for national identity, and they think that white people of European descent need to reclaim the country for themselves,” Corke told News 19. “They think the country needs to have a rebirth and restore it to some imagined, racially-pure past.”
The SPLC’s website says The Patriot Front was created in the aftermath of the violent “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. That event was one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in recent history. Several people were hurt and one anti-protestor was killed.
“They splintered off from the group Vanguard America, which is a neo-Nazi group,” Corke explained. “The founder of The Patriot Front is Thomas Rousseau, and he had been kind of a leading member of Vanguard America, including their participation in ‘Unite the Night’.”
Corke says they split to avoid negative media attention.
She said they even stay away from large gatherings of white supremacists so they are not directly associated with them.
“They try to pretend that their intent is less violent than it is,” Corke continued. “They’re very concerned about their public image. They kind of try to limit their individual exposure [and] negative media coverage.”
Corke said The Patriot Front’s manifesto is littered with racist rhetoric and propaganda. She said they justify their ideology by preaching “Replacement Theory” or the idea that people of color are actively trying to replace white people in America.
Corke said the idea was been applied, not just to people of color, but to other minority groups as well, including other religions, and more recently, the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s not just racism,” Corke stated. “They believe that people of color do not deserve to be in this country, that them being in this country is an existential threat that requires dramatic action.”
Corke said as long as these theories continue to be promoted by prominent politicians and other leaders, she fears these groups will continue to grow in Lauderdale County.
To learn more about the group’s origins and ideology, you can go to the SPLC’s website here.