FBI tracked Patriot Front prior to Coeur d’Alene arrests

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 3:40 PM MDT
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Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Additional details are coming to light on what led to the arrest of 31 men with ties to the Patriot Front in Coeur D’Alene earlier this month, as newly released documents show the FBI was involved in tracking the white supremacist group for over a year prior to their members’ arrests.

Emails obtained by transparency nonprofit “Property of the People” via records requests show how Idaho law enforcement and the FBI worked together to keep tabs on Patriot Front activity within the state.

Emails released trace as far back as May 13, 2021, regarding a graffiti incident where Patriot Front stickers were placed without permission throughout North Idaho College’s campus. In August of 2021, the Coeur d’Alene Police Department was asked to investigate after Patriot Front stickers and posters started to be found throughout the city.

“We need to catch who is doing this,” said Steve Widmyer, who at the time was the Mayor of Coeur d’Alene, in an email regarding the stickers.

Also in those records was an exchange between an Idaho Falls Police Criminal Intelligence Analyst and Coeur D’Alene Police Department, discussing a tip shared from the FBI that North Idaho biker club The Panhandle Patriots threatened physical harm to attendees of a pride parade in Idaho Falls.

The tip stated one Panhandle Patriot member allegedly said “If the gays want a war, we’ll give them a war.” Also in that FBI tip, the link to a video clip from an April event hosted by Representative Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) in Kootenai.

In the video, members of The Panhandle Patriots spoke about their intention to confront the pride event in Coeur d’Alene Park, saying “We actually intend to go head-to-head with these people. A line must be drawn in the sand.”

Scott did not return our request for comment.

Executive Director of anti-extremism group The Idaho 97 Project Mike Satz said these documents confirmed his fear that extremist groups and individuals are coordinating.

“This is indicative of this national connection of extremist groups,” said Satz. “It is nice to see that law enforcement has been tracking it, but we just wonder how deep it goes. What is the threat to Idaho? What is the threat to the region? What is the national threat that’s emanating from Idaho supporting this kind of behavior? Those are the sorts of things that pop up when you see how deep this is and how long it’s been going.”

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