MeIn June, police in Idaho arrested 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front crammed into the back of U Hall near the Coeur d’Alene Pride event. Officials said the group planned to riot during his LGBTQ+ celebration and had riot gear, smoke grenades, shin guards and shields.
The mass arrests not only revealed the names of members of the extremist group, but also gave extremist experts a glimpse into how the group meticulously planned, funded, organized, and celebrated. It provided new insight into how they promote armed demonstrations at public events. Diversity.
According to their experts, the Patriot Front’s fundraising and mobilization efforts reveal a corporate-style organization that resembles a media production company with satellite offices rather than a classic neo-Nazi group. is.
“No white supremacist group operating in the United States today can match the Patriot Front’s ability to produce media, mobilize across the country, and raise funds,” said a research fellow at the ADL Center for Extremism. says one Morgan Moon. “That’s what makes them a special concern.”
The Patriot Front was founded by Thomas Rousseau, a former member of the small neo-Nazi group Vanguard America, after a right-wing rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
Disgruntled Vanguard America members left to join Rousseau’s organization and spent two years mostly plastering stickers on college campuses and slogans such as “Take Back America” on highway overpasses. I dropped the banner.
In the 18 months since the January 6 riots at the Capitol, many anti-government extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers and the Sleepercenters, have gone into hiding. But the Patriot Front is ready. The group makes unauthorized demonstrations “bread and butter,” ensuring each event is heavily publicized on his social media outlets, Moon said.
Since last December, the group has organized five such flash demonstrations. Two of them received national media attention for their events in Idaho and their controversial march along Boston’s Freedom Trail on the Fourth of July holiday.
At rallies, Rousseau usually addresses crowds, urging onlookers to physically stand up and “take back your country.”
Several cameramen circulated while members wore body-worn cameras to capture different angles of the rally, according to Jeff Tichozer, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center. to record a video. A media team then edits the footage and circulates the video his package on alternative technology platforms such as Gab, Odyssey and Telegram.
The Patriot Front’s social media team then monitors mentions of the group, shares news reports on a private server, and tells members which social media accounts to harass, Tishhauser said.
Steven Piggott, a program analyst at the Western States Center, a Portland-based nonprofit that promotes inclusive democracy, said the video package was designed to appeal specifically to younger audiences. increase. And while other far-right and white supremacist groups are engaging in memetic culture and recruiting people online, this group attracts young radicals and gets them off their laptops and into the streets. He added that it is effective in
Through its propaganda, the group takes care to create an image that appeals to young users, promotes the “young warrior idea” and strives to become a “warrior elite,” said an ADL researcher. One Moon said. The group focuses on fitness, diet, and training, and often conducts paramilitary drills before demonstrations.
Also attractive to young recruits is the group’s emphasis on anonymity. Dropping banners and defacing murals is usually done after sunset, with members covering their faces. Internal chats display members using their codenames. At protests, Rousseau is usually the only one to show his face.
“The White Nationalist Ponzi Scheme”
A rigid top-down hierarchy underpins the Patriot Front’s operations, researchers say.
Rousseau leads. Lieutenant runs the group’s divisions, including media production, recruitment, and his security online. Fifteen regional network directors organize regional and national activities and oversee members.
Once a recruit becomes a member, Moon said, they must attend monthly roundups, complete weekly activity quotas, and participate in demonstrations. If not, Rousseau expels them from the Patriot front.
An internal chat obtained by an extremist expert complaining about the ongoing costs members are incurring to pay for stickers, stencils and other essential propaganda materials Rousseau charges them. is shown.
Rousseau charges members a premium for the Patriot Front’s propaganda material, Tishauzer said, and expects network directors to encourage members to purchase flyers and distribute them several times a month. “In this sense, the Patriot Front is akin to a white nationalist pyramid scheme,” notes Tishauzer.
The ADL says its tightly organized structure allows the Patriot Front to handle up to 14 hate cases a day. Under the direction of the network director, members of the Patriot Front defaced 29 murals honoring black history, LGBTQ+ pride, immigration history and victims of police shootings, Tischauser said. .
Patriot Front did not respond to a request for comment.
“He lifted the veil a little.”
Recent events have somewhat upended the group’s carefully constructed image. It helped discover the identities of the director and many other members. And following the arrest in Coeur d’Alene, the names of all 31 of his arrested members were broadcast with mug shots and published in the local media.
“They did the exact opposite of what they wanted. They failed to disrupt the LGBTQ pride event and got a lot of mainstream media attention,” Pigott said.
The Idaho arrest also revealed that their members flew into the state from various parts of the country, Pigot added. I may not have the numbers to say.”
Still, civil rights groups are increasingly concerned about the violence that occurs at flash demonstrations. allegedly assaulted activist Charles Murrell.
Murrell did not respond to requests for an interview.
The ADL, the Center for Western States and other civil rights groups have asked the Justice Department to launch a comprehensive investigation into them, alleging that some of their activities may violate federal law. .
“More needs to be done to hold the group accountable and not continue to intimidate historically marginalized communities,” the organization said in a statement to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. I am writing in a letter.
“This is especially true at a time when the Patriot Front has become increasingly audacious, coordinating its operations on a national level and targeting specific locations across the country,” they added. It may be the only agency that can effectively address these concerns.”