CONROE, Texas – A man from the Houston area was reportedly among the 31 people linked to a white nationalist group who were found in the back of a U-Haul with riot gear near a Pride event in Idaho.
According to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, Robert Benjamin Whitted, who is from Conroe, was arrested following the incident. He has since been released on a $500 bond.
It is believed the group of men brought riot gear in anticipation of a Pride event happening in the area.
“They hold racist, as well as anti-Semitic and highly anti-inclusive views, where they believe those who are not white Americans, i.e., individuals who are ancestors of those from the revolutionary war, have no right to be a part of this country,” said Mark Toubin, the Southwest Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League.
Toubin said the group is responsible for nearly 80% of white nationalist propaganda flyers issued across the country.
“This is the first time that we’re aware where they’ve actually sought to disrupt a protest violently, which is very concerning,” he said.
Here’s what happened
Authorities arrested 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near an Idaho pride event Saturday after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear.
The men were standing inside the truck wearing khakis, navy blue shirts and beige hats with white balaclavas covering their faces when Coeur d’Alene police stopped the U-Haul and began arresting them on the side of the road.
“They came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said at a news conference.
All 31 were charged with conspiracy to riot, a misdemeanor, White said. The men were going through the booking process Saturday afternoon and are scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, he said.
Based on evidence collected and documents, authorities found that the group was planning to riot in several areas of downtown, not just the park, White said.
Police found riot gear, one smoke grenade, shin guards and shields inside the van, White said. They wore arm patches and logos on their hats that identified them as members of Patriot Front, he said.