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.
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.”