The most recent scofflaw is 28-year-old Jared Michael Boyce of Utah, who became the subject of a bench warrant Monday after failing to appear for his court date last month. Another one of the arrested marchers, Derek J. Smith, 25, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota—also has a warrant out for his arrest after failing to show up in court for his first hearing in September.
The two were part of a large contingent of mostly masked and uniformed Patriot Front members who flew to Idaho from multiple locales around the nation—ranging from Alabama to Texas to Illinois to Oregon and Washington—with plans in hand to create a riot at the annual Pride event, which had been targeted by far-right extremists wielding “groomer” rhetoric.
Local law-enforcement authorities, however, were alerted to their presence when they loaded the phalanx of marchers into a U-Haul van. The van was pulled over near the park’s entrance, and the men were arrested in full public view while forced to wait on a grassy berm.
One of the men—Alexander Sisenstein, 27, of Midvale, Utah—has already pleaded to guilty to the misdemeanor charges. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors asked that he be sentenced to six months in jail, which can be waived if he successfully completes two years of unsupervised probation, terms to which the judge agreed in ordering Sisenstein also to pay a $500 fine.
Boyce attracted media attention in Utah at the time of the arrest when his mother ordered him out of her home and eagerly repudiated her son’s hate-group activities for local media.
Karen Amsden said she told Boyce after his arrest that he had to choose between his family and Patriot Front, and that he needed to move out if it was the latter. It was, so he left.
“I remember at first when he started going down this rabbit hole, it started with he was a Holocaust denier and blaming the Jews, and bought into all this conspiracy stuff,” she said. “At first, I thought it was kidding when he was talking about the Holocaust not being real. I thought that, but there really are people that believe that.”
"I was hoping and praying that maybe this arrest would be something that would change his attitude,” she told KUTV-TV, but said she thinks it drove him farther down the far-right rabbit hole. “They feel justified in what they did and he intends on being part of Patriot Front.”
Amsden said he told her, “Don’t believe the media, mom. We were just there because they’re grooming kids.”
Rousseau offered a similar defense to police, reportedly telling them he was in Coeur d’Alene with his group to “peacefully exercise his First Amendment rights.”
That claim was contradicted by the planning document created by Rousseau that police found in the van. It detailed “call locations, primary checkpoints, drill times, prep times and observation windows,” according to court records, along with two backup plans and GPS coordinates for a drop point.
The plan of attack, as outlined in the document, was to form a column outside City Park, where the Pride event had been proceeding peacefully for hours, and to proceed into the park, “until barriers to approach are met.”
Then after “an appropriate amount of confrontational dynamic had been established,” the plan stipulated, the column would “disengage” and head into downtown Coeur d’Alene along Sherman Avenue.
The men are all charged with rioting—in Idaho, a misdemeanor—and with conspiracy to riot. The latter charge is punishable by up to a year’s prison sentence and two years’ probation, as well as by a fine of up to $5,000.
Task Force Butler, the veterans group that compiled a report on Patriot Front’s activities in Idaho as a way of showing prosecutors how to deal with them appropriately, has expressed ongoing concern about whether law enforcement in Idaho is using the tools at its disposal to confront hate groups.
“Patriot Front is not deterred from engaging in violence by current piecemeal, local legal accountability efforts, and often uses local law enforcement’s tactics of escorting the group through urban spaces to create a permissive environment for their violence,” the report read. “The fact that multiple members of Patriot Front who were arrested weeks prior in Idaho participated in the Boston march on July 2, 2022, illustrates this phenomenon.”
Task Force Butler founder Kristofer Goldsmith told NPR that local jurisdictions often lack a sense of urgency in pursuing these prosecutions, even though they involve attacks on their communities.
"What I'm trying to encourage law enforcement to do at the local level is look nationally, recognize that this is a nationwide neo-Nazi gang that is coming to their neighborhood to terrorize their civilians, their citizens, the people that these police are supposed to protect," Goldsmith said.
"The stakes are incredibly high," said Lindsay Schubiner, a program director at the Western States Center, a progressive, pro-democracy organization. "We've seen from other cases and from the history of white nationalism in the U.S. that significant legal action, including civil suits, can be really effective in diminishing the threats that white nationalist groups pose.”
Goldsmith told Daily Kos that while Kootenai County prosecutors expressed interest in the report, as did the FBI’s Civil Rights division. However, no U.S. attorneys' offices—notably including those in Idaho—were interested.
Mary McCord, executive director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and visiting professor at Georgetown Law, told NPR that there could be risks to pursuing a federal case against the group.
"What you don't want to do is bring a case and lose it, making bad law and emboldening groups to go out and do more," she said.
McCord noted that unless the Justice Department prosecutors feel confident they can present a winnable case—particularly given that a prosecutorial failure could be catastrophic—they might consider it better to play a role in helping local and state prosecutors understand the full scope of the activities of hate groups like Patriot Front around the nation.
Goldsmith noted, though, that the light touch of the law also can have profound consequences. He pointed to a ruling in Salem, Massachusetts, early this month in a vandalism case in which Patriot Front members “were caught with spray paint on their hands and stencils.” The judge—who acknowledged she was not familiar with Patriot Front—threw out the charges, saying that while the evidence was “indicative of the defendants going around Salem” and spray painting with the stencils at some point, prosecutors had not met their burden of proving that the two neofascists actually were responsible for the stenciled slogans police found.
“Very few members of Patriot Front have suffered legal consequences for anything they’ve done with the group, so they feel untouchable,” Goldsmith told Daily Kos.
On the first episode of season two of The Downballot, we're talking with Sara Garcia, the strategy and outreach manager at Crooked Media—home of Pod Save America—about everything her organization does to mobilize progressives and kick GOP ass. Sara tells us how Crooked arose to fill a void in the media landscape, how it not only informs listeners but also gives them tools to take action, and some of her favorite shows that she loves to recommend to folks.
Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also discuss the Republican shitshow currently unfolding in Congress—and starkly different outcomes in two state legislatures that just elected new House speakers via bipartisan coalitions; the landslide win for the good guys in a special election primary in Virginia; why George Santos faces serious legal trouble that will very likely end with his resignation; and the massive pushback from progressive groups and labor unions against Kathy Hochul's conservative pick to be New York's top judge.
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