A Conroe man was among 7 Texans and 24 others who were arrested on June 11 before they were able to start a riot near an Idaho Pride Month event, according to local authorities.
The 31 Patriot Front members with riot gear were arrested after a tipster reported seeing people loading into a U-Haul truck like “a little army” at a hotel parking lot in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Coeur d’Alene Chief of Police Lee White said. His officers found riot gear, one smoke grenade, shin guards, and shields inside the U-Haul after pulling it over near a park where the North Idaho Pride Alliance was holding their Pride in the Park event.
Among those arrested was 22-year-old Robert Whitted of Conroe. According to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, Whitted is charged with criminal conspiracy, a misdemeanor. Also arrested was Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas, who has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the 23-year-old who founded the Patriot Front after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
The seven arrested men from Texas are Connor Patrick Moran, 23, of Watauga; Graham Jones Whitson, 31, of Haslet; Josiah Daniel Buster, 24, of Watauga; Kieran Padraig Morris, 27, of Haslet; Robert Benjamin Whitted, 22, of Conroe; Steven Derrick Tucker, 30, of Haslet; and Thomas Ryan Rousseau, 23, of Grapevine, the Dallas Morning News reported. The arrests came one day before the sixth anniversary of one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, where 49 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the LGBTQ Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, responded on Twitter:
“Lawmakers and Governors like DeSantis and Abbott, along with their co-conspirators at Fox News, better pause today and recognize that their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and the nearly 250 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year are responsible for this dangerous climate. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media platforms must also take responsibility and urgently stop fueling the hate and misinformation that inspire white supremacist groups like the Patriot Front. This group was stopped this weekend in Idaho before violence occurred thanks to the critical work of local authorities, but we might not be so lucky the next time one of the growing number of groups like this plans to swarm an LGBTQ location. Today, as we mark the sixth [anniversary of losing] the 49 beautiful and innocent lives at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, we have to stop the shameful anti-LGBTQ laws, misinformation, and rhetoric that make America unsafe for LGBTQ and other marginalized communities. Corporations, media, and politicians have to act now, not send thoughts and prayers in the future.”
As police chief White also noted at the press conference, “It is clear to us—based on the gear the individuals had in the U-Haul with them, along with paperwork that was seized with them—that they came to riot downtown.” The Pride event was taking place just a mile from downtown Coeur d’Alene.
All 31 of the men arrested were set to be arraigned on Monday, June 13.