The Inlander’s Daniel Walters joins us to explain how far-right influencers made Coeur d’Alene’s Pride in the Park a national flashpoint.
Today on the pod, Daniel Walters joins us to talk about the many groups, YouTube celebrities, and far-right hype people who brought the June 11 counter-demonstration against Coeur d’Alene’s Pride in the Park near to a boiling point. This event led to 31 Patriot Front members getting arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to riot, including at least two men with ties to far-right pastor Matt Shea.
The group that organized the counter-event, the Panhandle Patriots Riding Club, has a lot of influence in Kootenai County politics. It’s a group that organizes candidate forums as though it were the Rotary Club or the League of Women Voters, and its leader, Mike Viper Birdsong, was at the January 6th Capitol insurrection.
Luke and Daniel talk about how June’s event has roots in 2020’s paranoid anti-antifa “Gun d’Alene” rally, which made national news, and how the 2022 remix was planned to target the right’s favorite boogieman of 2022: “groomers” (which really just means gay, trans and nonbinary people who aren’t hiding). They also cover how these groups consciously hyped up the event to draw national attention.
Some of those hype men — and women — aren’t from Kootenai County, but many of the biggest names and the people most responsible for the PR push have relocated to North Idaho in the last couple years.
This includes people like Dave Reilly, who was deeply involved in the planning of the 2017 Charlottesville rally that led to the murder of Heather Heyer. It also includes people like Vincent James Foxx, who has spent over half a decade streaming and video blogging the far right to an audience of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people.
Among the promotional tactics was a concerted effort to get the attention of national-tier far-right influencers, like Libs of TikTok. Those efforts were successful (with a little help from Idaho’s branch of The Satanic Temple). Once it was in the far right influence-o-sphere, the event soon got traditional coverage at outlets like the 300-plus local television stations owned by the conservative Sinclair broadcasting.
You’ll hear Luke mention how this event seemed like “far-right Coachella” — a place to be seen as much as anything else.
North Idaho has a deep history as a gathering place for white nationalism and racial hatred. Part of the point of the June event, at least for folks like Reilly and Foxx, was to demonstrate a new generation is ready to build on that legacy.
There’s A LOT to unpack here, so we’re cutting the discussion up into two parts.
We wanted to go through it methodically as an opportunity to document not just the people actively shaping politics in Kootenai County and the broader Inland Northwest, but the people who are promoting the region to hundreds of thousands of people nationwide.
So buckle up for part one of a discussion of all the connections, alliances and squabbles of a region that has real importance for many different ideologies and groups across the spectrum: from conservative to libertarian to far-right.
Read Daniel’s story here.
Host: Luke Baumgarten
Producer: Valerie Osier
Audio Editor: Connor Bacon