Patriot Front founder and de-facto leader Thomas Rousseau leads a march of Patriot Front members in Washington, D.C. 0n May 13, 2023
Kyle Anderson/Sipa USA

Homegrown Neo-Fascist Movement Marches in Austin

Researchers have identified dozens of members of the white nationalist group—and no, they’re not “feds.”


Steven Monacelli is a white man with short brown hair and a curved brown mustache. He's wearing a green v-neck.

Dozens of members of the neo-fascist, white nationalist group Patriot Front marched through the streets of Austin Saturday. The group did not announce the demonstration in advance, leaving no time for opposition groups to mount a counter-protest. It was the largest public gathering of the group’s members since they held a similar march in Washington, D.C., on May 13.

Aside from the leader of Patriot Front, Thomas Ryan Rousseau, all of the group’s members wore masks to conceal their identities. City residents, however, snapped photos of their license plates, allowing others to reveal the identities of the vehicle owners. In addition to the recent marches in Austin and Washington, D.C., small groups of Patriot Front members have appeared at anti-LGTBQ+ protests in Katy and San Antonio.

Demonstrations by neo-fascist groups have become a common sight in American cities in recent years. While several local Patriot Front chapters exist nationwide, large demonstrations feature participants traveling across state lines to participate. Such was the case in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where seven of the 31 members of Patriot Front were arrested for allegedly planning to riot at a Pride event. 

Patriot Front emerged after the deadly “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Patriot Front’s leader, Rousseau, was there that day leading members of Vanguard America, a group the Anti-Defamation League has labeled as a neo-Nazi group. Rosseau later split from Vanguard America and formed Patriot Front. Amid a nationwide wave of anti-LGTBQ+ legislation, Patriot Front has targeted LGTBQ+ groups, protesting drag shows and creating an anti-trans website that offers bogus alternatives to hormone therapy for transgender people.

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Legal troubles have dogged Patriot Front in recent months. After mass arrests in Idaho, a lawsuit filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law named Patriot Front members who vandalized and destroyed a mural honoring Black tennis legend Arthur Ashe in Richmond, Virginia, in October 2021. 

Despite the surfeit of information about members of Patriot Front, right-wing media figures and elected officials have increasingly promoted the idea that neo-fascist groups like Patriot Front are “feds” or “psyops”—a conspiracy theory alleging the hate group is secretly controlled by federal government intelligence operatives in order “to create racism, white supremacy, and racial division.” 

In reality, Patriot Front is a homegrown neo-fascist movement that downplays its most offensive beliefs in public but behind the scenes promotes a deeply racist white nationalist ideology

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