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Gov. Little, Democratic opponent speak out after white nationalist group’s Idaho arrest


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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – The two opponents in the upcoming November Idaho governor’s issued statements on Sunday, following the arrest of 31 masked members of a white nationalist group in Coeur d’Alene.

Police found the men inside of a U-Haul truck during a traffic stop Saturday. Discovered to be part of a group called Patriot Front, they were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to riot at the north Idaho town’s Pride in the Park event, reported The Spokesman-Review. Only two of the members were from Idaho, according to Kootenai County Jail records.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said “police were tipped off by a citizen who said they saw a large group of people wearing masks and donning shields looking ‘like a little army’ jump into a U-Haul truck Saturday afternoon at a hotel parking lot,” The Spokeman-Review said.

Both Idaho governor candidates spoke out against the group’s planned riot. Gov. Brad Little issued a statement on Twitter at 1:48 p.m. titled, “Intimidation, scare tactics and violence have no place in our great state.”

The Republican governor chose to focus on praising Idahoans who peacefully protest and the police who quickly caught the Patriot Front members.

“All Americans should be able to peacefully express their constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech without the threat of violence,” Little wrote. “It is what has always set America apart from other nations. I thank the many, many Idahoans from across the political spectrum committed to peacefully demonstrating. I commend our brave men and women in law enforcement for their swift action in Coeur d’Alene this weekend. Their diligence and quick response helped avoid a potentially terrible situation.”

Democratic governor candidate Stephen Heidt, who will be running against Little in this year’s election, was more explicit in his condemnation of the group behind the incident.

“Yesterday’s arrests in Coeur D’Alene isn’t what Idaho is about,” Heidt said in an emailed statement at 9:43 a.m. Sunday. “Our campaign shouts that the underlying principles of our state need not be meanness or racism, sexism or ignorance, but kindness and compassion.

“White nationalists, I say to you. You are not welcome here. As Governor I will stand up to these groups violating the Idaho way of life. The election for Idaho Governor this November is a simple decision. A choice between decency or being complicit in this kind of behavior. I will not be complicit. We need to organize now and mobilize the state to vote this November.”

All 31 men posted bail as of Sunday afternoon, according to Coeur d’Alene Press reporter Kaye Thornbrugh.