UA-Fayetteville student arrested with Patriot Front members in Idaho

The Fayetteville man arrested in Idaho on Saturday with 30 others in a U-Haul van truck loaded with riot gear was a University of Arkansas history student who received a scholarship last year for international studies.

The Devin Wayne Center attended UA-Fayetteville from fall 2020 to spring 2022, said John Thomas, a spokesperson for the university. The center is currently not enrolled for the Fall 2022 semester.

Last year, the Center received the Stokely-McAdoo Family International Scholarship, Thomas said. But the $3,500 scholarship was never paid into his account because the history department was not allowing any overseas study trips at that time because of covid-19.

According to the UA Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences, the award is “for undergraduate students of history who wish to pursue research and study opportunities internationally, excluding sites in North America” .

Center was among 31 men affiliated with the white supremacist group Patriot Front who were arrested near a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Saturday, according to police and court documents. All 31 were arrested on provisional charges of criminal conspiracy to riot, which is a misdemeanor.

They were incarcerated in Kootenai County Jail in Idaho and released on bail. The center’s bail had been set at $300.

Center, 22, was born in Springdale and is self-employed as a painter, according to his booking sheet.

The center’s arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 15, said Lisa Petersen, clerk of records for the Kootenai County District Court.

On Saturday, the North Idaho Pride Alliance was hosting a Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene. Police believe the U-Haul truck was heading towards the park.

“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan,” according to the Library of Congress. “The Stonewall Uprising was a watershed moment for the gay liberation movement in the United States. … The first Pride March in New York was held on June 28, 1970, the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Stonewall.”

Patriot Front is a neo-Nazi white supremacist group whose members perceive black Americans, Jews and LGBTQ people as enemies, said Jon Lewis, a George Washington University researcher who specializes in grassroots violent extremism.

Police say a tipster reported seeing people loading into a U-Haul “like a small army” in a hotel parking lot in Coeur d’Alene.

“Officers received information that a large group of similarly dressed masked individuals armed with shields were entering the back of a U-Haul pickup truck heading into downtown Coeur d’Alene” , according to the case summary in a probable cause affidavit filed with the district court. tuesday. “The concerned citizen reported this activity while a ‘Pride’ event was taking place downtown, leading several nationally known groups to condemn the event on various online social media platforms. Officers believed that the intent of these individuals was likely to incite physical confrontation and disorder.”

The police stopped the van before it reached its destination.

“Based on the entire investigation, it was determined that the subjects were part of the ‘Patriotic Front’ and had conspired to use violence and/or the threat of violence to disturb the public peace,” according to the summary. of the case. “All 31 were arrested for conspiracy to riot.”

They were armed with a smoke grenade, shields, shin guards and other riot gear, according to the affidavit.

“Several wore a baseball-style cap with a plastic shell inside as if designed to protect the head from light projectiles,” according to the affidavit. “Several of those arrested had tactical medical kits, radios and cameras.”

An arrested man said he traveled all the way from Birmingham, Ala.

“We go where we are needed,” he said in the affidavit.

Additional police were on duty in Coeur d’Alene on Saturday because intelligence agencies indicated groups may be coming to town to stir up trouble, according to the affidavit.

Among those incarcerated on misdemeanor charges was Thomas Ryan Rousseau of Grapevine, Texas, who was identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the 23-year-old who founded the group after the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville . , Virginia, in 2017.

According to the affidavit, Rousseau was cooperative and told a police officer that he had been there to peacefully exercise his First Amendment rights.

The police found a document on Rousseau at the time of his arrest.

“The document was typed and mentioned that the group was there to speak out against the moral depravity that allows events like this to happen,” according to the affidavit, which appeared to paraphrase the document Rousseau had with him. “There was also a typed organizational document outlining call locations, major checkpoints, drill times, prep times and viewing windows. There was also GPS coordinates of a drop point. with two contingency plans. In terms of operational intent, the document refers to the use of “smoke” at the discretion of a ‘column coordinator'”.

The men were standing inside the truck wearing khakis, navy shirts and tan hats with white balaclavas covering their faces when Coeur d’Alene police stopped the U-Haul and began arresting them on the edge of the road. Some of them wore Patriot Front patches and logos on their hats and T-shirts emblazoned with “Reclaim America,” according to police and videos of the arrests posted on social media.

“They came to riot downtown,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said at a news conference.

Besides the U-Haul Ford Econoline truck, police also confiscated a Ford Ranger pickup truck and a Toyota Camry.

Those arrested came from at least 11 states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

It is 1,765 miles by car from Fayetteville to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The six-hour Pride event went generally as planned, including booths, food, live music, a drag show and a march of more than 50 people, the Idaho Statesman reported.

When asked if the Center could face disciplinary action from the University of Arkansas, Thomas replied in an email: “He is not currently enrolled for the semester at come in. Generally speaking, any student who violates our student life code could face appropriate penalties.”

Information for this article was provided by The Associated Press.