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Patriot Front members plead not guilty

by KAYE THORNBRUGH
Hagadone News Network | July 19, 2022 1:00 AM

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COEUR d’ALENE — Six members of the the white nationalist hate group Patriot Front pleaded not guilty Monday in Coeur d'Alene to misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot.

The six are among 31 Patriot Front members accused of planning to violently disrupt a Pride Celebration on June 11 in Coeur d'Alene City Park.

Those who appeared before Judge Robert Caldwell were brothers Josiah and Mishael Buster, as well as Connor Moran, all of Watauga, Texas; Derek Smith of Sioux Falls, S.D.; Dakota Tabler of West Valley City, Utah; and Justin O’Leary of Des Moines, Wash.

The men appeared in Kootenai County First District Court remotely via Zoom.

Now that they have formally entered pleas, their cases will be scheduled for pretrial hearings and jury trials. All six said they plan to hire their own lawyers.

Though none of the Patriot Front arrestees are from Idaho’s five northern counties, the Busters have ties to Spokane.

The brothers reportedly graduated from Rogers High School. Mishael Buster lived in Spokane until after his arrest, according to court documents.

Police arrested the group July 11 after a tipster reported seeing a “little army” with metal shields and other gear piling into the back of a U-Haul truck.

The group reportedly carried with them “abnormally long” metal flag poles, as well as “tactical” medical kits, radios and cameras. Their hats, emblazoned with the Patriot Front logo, were reinforced with hard plastic inserts.

Also among the arrestees was Thomas Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas, who founded Patriot Front after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in 2017.

Rousseau reportedly had with him a document outlining a plan to form a column outside City Park and proceed inward, “until barriers to approach are met.”

Once “an appropriate amount of confrontational dynamic had been established,” the column would disengage and head down Sherman Avenue.

The remaining suspects are expected to appear in court between July and mid-August.

Misdemeanor conspiracy to riot is punishable by up to one year in jail, as well as by a $5,000 fine and up to two years of probation.

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