A white supremacist group based out of Dallas-Fort Worth marched in Philadelphia over Fourth of July weekend and fled from citizens who confronted them, according to news reports.
Patriot Front, which the Anti-Defamation League categorizes as a white supremacist group, has been active in the Dallas-Fort Worth area multiple times. The man identified as the group’s leader, Thomas Rousseau, has been arrested in DFW at least twice. In 2020, he was accused of putting stickers about Patriot Front on property at the Parker County Courthouse and in 2018, police said he hung hate speech posters in downtown Fort Worth.
In 2018, the group took credit for hanging a banner that declared “deport them all” from the Morningside Bridge on I-35.
And on Saturday, the group took its campaign of white supremacy to the streets of Philly. About 150 to 200 people marched in the city Saturday night, according to ABC 6 News, wearing face coverings and carrying shields and flags. Photos taken by the Philadelphia Inquirer show men carrying a banner that says, “reclaim America.”
Some onlookers started to engage with the group, police told ABC 6 News. The groups started to clash, and photos capture the physical fights that broke out between shield-carrying Patriot Front members and counter-protesters. At one point, the group threw smoke bombs as they started to retreat, a police officer told ABC 6 News.
“They started engaging with citizens of Philadelphia, who were none too happy about what they were saying,” Philadelphia Police Officer Michael Crum told ABC 6 News. “These males felt threatened, and, at one point, somebody in their crowd threw a type of smoke bomb to cover their retreat, and they literally ran away from the people of Philadelphia.”
After the group fled, Philadelphia police stopped multiple Penske moving trucks driving away from the city center and pulled groups of Patriot Front members out of the back of the trucks, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Police searched the group and eventually released them.
The group operates mostly in Texas, where most of its members live, but its distribution of hate speech has been identified in at least 12 different states. The group was responsible for 80 percent of all racist propaganda in the country in 2020, according to the ADL’s annual report on white supremacist propaganda. That number was more than double its incident total in 2019.
Rousseau, who attended Coppell High School, formed Patriot Front after leading a group of people during Charlotteville’s Unite the Right Rally.