IDAHO (ABC4) – According to police, 31 members of a white supremacist group were arrested near a pride event in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. The group members were from eleven different states and six of them were from Utah. Local LGBTQ+ advocates say it’s disheartening to see things like this happening so close to home.
“You hope that things get better and then we see this very deliberate calculated plan to potentially harm a marginalized community very close to us,” said Jessica Dummar, the co-CEO with the Utah Pride Center.
Monday, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond spoke out, addressing the arrests.
“We are the same city that we were last week and that city is a city that respects everyone, that welcomes everyone,” he said.
According to police, those 31 members were associated with Patriot Front and were arrested after they were found in the back of a U-Haul near a pride event in Idaho Saturday. Police say they had shields, shinguards and other riot gear, including at least one smoke grenade.
“I have never seen that type of activity in this area in my eight years,” said Coeur d’Alene police chief Lee Whiter.
Dummar says it’s concerning to see a rise in crimes that target marginalized groups across the nation.
“This is not okay, it’s terrible whenever we see people act out in such a hateful way, in such a targeted, in such a collaborative way,” she said.
At Utah Pride, they set a designated area for protestors and this year increased private security to focus on safety.
“We worked with police to limit space for protestors to make sure we were adhering to the regulations with requirements and law,” Dummar said.
The arrests were for conspiracy to riot, the arresting officer said to prevent an actual riot at the event.
“In this case, police have alleged that the protestors had riot gear, they had supposedly a smoke grenade, and they had a lot more than signs and banners that said we don’t support this rally,” said Greg Skordas, defense attorney and former prosecutor.
Dummar says she hopes to see a change to prevent anything like this from happening in the future
“We need to be more loving and more collaborative and more focused on our purpose and achieving them, we are not alone as states and we are not alone within our community,” she said.
The group members were arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy and were scheduled to be arraigned Monday.