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Naples Pride continues plans following white supremacists' arrests near Idaho pride event

Anti-Defamation League brings context behind group
Naples Pride Center
Posted at 7:26 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 19:51:26-04

NAPLES, Fla.  — With Naples Pride quickly approaching after being canceled due to the tropical system, it comes with the context of 31 men arrested last weekend in Idaho.

Investigators say they are white supremacy group members, part of Patriot Front. All 31 men were charged with conspiracy to riot at a North Idaho pride event.

The Naples Pride president says the arrests mean their event moves forward with a sense of strength. A research director for the Anti-Defamation League, one of the world's leading hate crime organizations, is explaining the history behind the group and what happened.

"I think one of the most concerning things about this particular Patriot Front event is that it was the first anti-LGBTQ," said Carla Hill, Director of Investigative Research at the ADL.

Patriot Front is what the group re-branded itself as after being behind 2017's deadly Charlottesville, Virginia riot, Hill said.

"I think it’s really important to note that 31 people — of the 31 people that were going to allegedly riot or march through their event — only one was from that state," she explained.

One only was from Idaho and none are from Florida.

"We have made so much progress. It’s just horrible," said Cori Craciun, president of Naples Pride.

In the middle of preparing for Naples Pride, it did hit home for Craciun.

"It just shows how the past few years things have gotten worse for the LGBTQ community," she said.

By that Craciun says she feels what we saw in Idaho symbolically ties into what she views as a symptom of increasing anti-LGBTQ+ legislative agendas across the country.

"Because by-laws they pass to limit the rights of the LGBTQ community by trying to criminalize parents by taking their children to a drag show, by banning books, children books, and math books," Craciun said. "By denying one’s existence or not allowing discussions to be made in the classroom about someone’s same-sex family — that has to change first,"

Hill says the purpose of the planned riot is to send a message to all communities they do not see as fitting into their version of what the country should look like.

"Despite the patriotic words they use, they target communities like the LGBTQ community, they target Jews and places that represent minority people," Hill explained.

As far as security, Naples Police said extra officers will be at the event and are working with event organizations. The FBI Tampa spokesperson said they remain vigilant and said in part, "We are working with our law enforcement partners to detect, disrupt, and dismantle any threats that may emerge."

The men charged with conspiracy to riot have been released on bond. It was set low because the charge is a misdemeanor.

As for Naples Pride, you can head to Cambier Park on July 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"Just events like this, it’s not going to stop us, it’s not going to send us back in the closet. It’s going to give us more strength," Craciun said.