Civil rights groups urge Attorney General Merrick Garland to open criminal investigation into Patriot Front

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In a letter sent yesterday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kristen ClarkeWestern States Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law presented evidence that Patriot Front, a white nationalist group founded in the aftermath of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, should be investigated for criminal actions under federal law.

The letter presents evidence that recent Patriot Front activity targeting a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, raises potential criminal liability under various federal statutes. At this event, 31 members of the Patriot Front were arrested after a concerned neighbor reported seeing a crowd of masked individuals getting into a U-Haul truck. When the truck was stopped by law enforcement about ten minutes later, police found 31 individuals armed with “shields, shin guards and other riot gear with them, including at least one smoke grenade”.

“The Western States Center has been monitoring the Patriot Front for several years, and it is clear that the group promotes a hateful and bigoted agenda while actively promoting violence,” said Lindsay Schubiner of the Western States Center. “We face a profound threat to inclusive democracy, and this threat demands a response from every part of our government, including law enforcement. The actions of the Patriot Front 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 violently racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and transphobic agenda with the ultimate goal of creating a white ethno-state in the United States. Since its inception, the Patriot Front has actively encouraged, even compelled, its members to engage in vandalism and intimidation.

“The Patriot Front’s agenda is reprehensible, but it’s not just about reprimanding their bigotry or hatred, it’s about ensuring accountability,” said Arusha Gordon of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Patriot Front does more than engage in random acts of vandalism; it deliberately attempts to intimidate people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and anyone who opposes their deeply un-American agenda.

In addition to the Western States Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the letter is published in partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League and is also signed by several other civil rights and 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 action is both clear and urgent. After all, the Patriot Front’s coordinated plan to violently disrupt Pride in the Park was only thwarted because a concerned citizen alerted local law enforcement to a “small army” of men. masked. Not insignificantly, Coeur d’Alene was very lucky. But as the Patriot Front continues to organize and agitate, the next city targeted by their threat and vandalism may not be.

In addition to urging the Justice Department to open an investigation, the letter asks the DOJ to share information with state attorneys general who may be able to prosecute the Patriot Front under state law.

You can read the full text of the letter here. To request an interview with an expert from the Western States Center, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, or another signatory, please contact [email protected]

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About Western States Center – Based in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States, Western States Centerworks nationally to strengthen inclusive democracy by building a movement, developing leaders, changing 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 established in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy for involving the private bar in the provision of legal services to combat racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law continues its quest to “move America toward justice.” The primary mission of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to ensure, 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, hosted by the Lawyers’ Committee, supports communities and individuals targeted by hate and challenges white supremacy using creative legal advocacy , disrupting the systems that enable hate, and educating the general public and policy makers.

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