UPDATE: “Small army” of 31 masked Patriot Front members arrested in Coeur d’Alene near Pride in the Park

Masked and uniformed members of a white nationalist group were arrested in Coeur d’Alene on Saturday afternoon, the same day that Pride in the Park was scheduled to take place, police said.

Coeur d’Alene Police said 31 people from across the country who were in a U-Haul have been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to start a riot. Only one was from Idaho, police said, with others from Washington, Arkansas, Colorado, Texas, Wyoming and other states.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said the group appeared to have “came to riot downtown”. White said the group also had “paperwork” similar to a police or military operational plan.

Those arrested belonged to a group called the Patriot Front, police said.

The Patriot Front is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a white nationalist hate group” that split from a similar far-right group after the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can easily be circulated across the country as propaganda for its local chapters,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said of the group.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group has a manifesto calling for the formation of a white ethnic state in the United States. Their brand of activism often involves posting flyers and other advertisements in public places that promote an extremist brand of patriotism, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

White said a tipster called police because it looked like “a small army” got caught in a U-Haul on Saturday morning.

Police caught up with the group and arrested the 31 members, some of whom were carrying shields, shin guards and other riot gear. One had a smoke grenade, White said.

“I don’t think this would have been as successful if we hadn’t had an extremely perceptive citizen who saw something that disturbed him very much…reported it to us,” White said.

A video circulating on Facebook showed Idaho police officers opening the U-Haul float filled with the apparent protesters. Another video also showed the men on their knees with their hands behind their backs surrounded by police officers in tactical gear.

The U-Haul truck was towed from the scene on Northwest Boulevard near the Paul Bunyan restaurant.

Photos show some of the men wearing shirts that read “RECLAIM AMERICA” while one read “Conquerors not Thieves,” an apparent reference to the belief that white colonialists had the right to take Native American lands.

Tensions for the city’s LGBTQ event were already simmering over a nearby event that some perceived as a protest.

Coeur d’Alene police said earlier in the week they had no “verifiable information” about groups coming to the city to “commit riotous behaviour”.

Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris, who has frequently warned of capacity issues at his prison, said after the news conference he would “find the space for those 31.”

WARNING: The following video contains profanity.

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