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Utah's ties to white supremacist group arrested near Idaho pride event

Posted at 3:20 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 19:08:23-04

COUER D'ALENE, Idaho — Six men with Utah ties were among those arrested near a pride rally in Idaho on Saturday where authorities believe they were planning to start a riot.

The men belong to an organization called Patriot Front, which has had a presence in Utah since at least 2019 when flyers with its name and white supremacist language began appearing on college campuses in the state.

Banners with Patriot Front’s name also have appeared on highway overpasses in Utah, including one seen earlier this year on Interstate 215.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported one Patriot Front member from New Jersey was killed in a 2021 car crash near Wellington that also injured the group’s founder, Thomas Rousseau. The driver pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of reckless driving, according to Utah court records.

One of those charged this weekend s Cameron Pruitt, 23, of Midway, Utah, though court records say he recently had his name legally changed to Cameron Kathan. News reports from Texas show Kathan was previously arrested in the state on suspicion of placing stickers on public property. He did not return messages seeking comment on Monday.

The six Utah men have no history of violent or felony offenses in Utah or Idaho, according to a search of those states' court records.

On Monday, the Coeur d’Alene police chief spoke about how officers found the 31 men, some with shields and protective attire, in the back of a UHaul truck not far from where the pride event was set to take place.

“This one concerned citizen, rather than pulling out their phone and videotaping this for their 15 minutes on YouTube or Snapchatting it or something like that, took the time to call 911 and report some suspicious activity, and as a result we likely stopped a riot from happening downtown," said Chief Lee White.

It was that call that led to police being able to stop a potentially dangerous situation.

“We had some information that there might be some individuals who were loosely affiliated with some of the groups that were planning to protest the Pride events that day," explained White. "And so we were adequately staffed for it, but we didn’t have any intelligence that were was going to be a riotous group coming to this event prior to the 911 call that we received.”