In a letter sent yesterday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, Western States Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law laid out evidence that Patriot Front, a white nationalist group founded in the wake of the 2017 deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, should be investigated for criminal actions under federal law.
The letter lays out evidence that Patriot Front’s recent activity targeting a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, raises potential criminal liability under various federal statutes. At that event, 31 Patriot Front members were arrested after a concerned neighbor reported seeing a crowd of masked individuals getting into a U-Haul truck. When the truck was pulled over by law enforcement approximately ten minutes later, police found 31 individuals armed with “shields, shin guards, and other riot gear with them, including at least one smoke grenade.”
“Western States Center has been monitoring Patriot Front for a number of years, and it’s clear that the group is promoting a hateful and bigoted agenda while also actively promoting violence,” said Lindsay Schubiner of Western States Center. “We’re facing a profound threat to inclusive democracy, and that threat demands a response from every part of our government, including law enforcement. Patriot Front’s actions are a threat to racial justice and LGBTQ rights, they are against the law, and the Department of Justice should vigorously investigate their actions.”
As the letter makes clear, Patriot Front was founded to promote a virulently racist, antisemitic, homophobic and transphobic agenda with the ultimate goal of the creation of a white ethnostate within the United States. Since its founding, Patriot Front has actively encouraged, and even required, its members to engage in vandalism and intimidation.
“Patriot Front’s agenda is reprehensible, but this isn’t only about chastising their bigotry or hate, it’s about ensuring accountability,” said Arusha Gordon of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Patriot Front is doing more than engaging in random acts of vandalism; it’s deliberately attempting to intimidate people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and anyone who opposes their deeply un-American agenda.”
In addition to Western States Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the letter is released in partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League and is also signed by several other civil rights and racial justice organizations including North Idaho Pride Alliance, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, Human Rights First, Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Integrity First for America, Japanese American Citizens League, Lawyers for Civil Rights, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Muslim Advocates, National Council of Jewish Women, Not In Our Town, and The Sikh Coalition.
As the letter states, “the need for federal intervention is both clear and urgent. After all, Patriot Front’s coordinated plan to violently disrupt Pride in the Park was only thwarted because a concerned citizen alerted local law enforcement about a ‘little army’ of masked men. In no small way, Coeur d’Alene was very lucky. But as Patriot Front continues to organize and agitate, the next city targeted by their menace and vandalism might not be.”
In addition to urging the Department of Justice to initiate an investigation, the letter requests that the DOJ share information with state attorneys general who may be able to prosecute Patriot Front under state law.
You can read the full text of the letter here. To request an interview with an expert from Western States Center, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law or another signatory, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Western States Center – Based in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States, Western States Centerworks nationwide to strengthen inclusive democracy through building movement, developing leaders, shifting culture, and defending democracy.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.
About the James Byrd Jr. Center to Stop Hate – The James Byrd Jr. Center to Stop Hate, housed at the Lawyers’ Committee, supports communities and individuals targeted for hate and challenges white supremacy by using creative legal advocacy, disrupting systems that enable hate, and educating the general public and policy makers.