What Is ‘Patriot Front’? White Nationalist Group Banners Discovered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
BATON ROUGE, La. (KPEL News) - A white nationalist group that has been making headlines for just over a year made its presence felt in Baton Rouge earlier this week, causing alarm among Black residents in the state capital.
Recruitment banners for Patriot Front, labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, appeared in multiple locations in Baton Rouge on Sunday, July 30, prompting a "slew of calls from residents" to the local chapter of the NAACP.
On Sunday, Eugene Collins and Johnnie Domino received a slew of calls from residents letting them know that banners displaying the logo of White nationalist group Patriot Front had suddenly appeared in several locations throughout the city, draped prominently over roads in high-traffic areas.
Disturbed, the men decided to take matters into their own hands.
In total, Collins, who serves as president of Baton Rouge’s NAACP chapter, and Domino, a community organizer, say they took down four banners: two near Essen Lane, one near Acadian Thruway and one by Memorial Stadium.
Collins explained that the pair went out to every scene because many of the people who called were scared to take the signs down themselves.
“They were a little afraid of touching them,” he said. “Every time somebody calls us, we just go out and take the sign down.”
The banners were ultimately taken down from their multiple locations, but according to the men, it shook the community.
It's not the first time that the Patriot Front group let its presence be known in Baton Rouge, however. In June 2022, stencil logos were painted on the door of a Baton Rouge art space, prompting worries in the community.
“I’m still processing it,” one of the space's owners said at the time. “It seems crazy to me that there’s a neo-fascist group graffitiing a space I put my blood, sweat, and tears into.”
What Is Patriot Front?
The group, founded by a teenager in 2017, has grown in notoriety in the six years it has been around. There have been high-profile clashes between the group and other activist groups they're opposed to.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the group "is a white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it to them, and no one else."
But while their views are controversial, they are still a young organization compared to others with similar views. They do, however, generate a lot of media attention, and stunts like the banners in Baton Rouge play into their recruitment style. They were described in The Guardian as a "white nationalist pyramid scheme."
Patriot Front’s fundraising and mobilizing efforts, those experts say, reveal a corporate-style organization that more resembles a media production company with satellite offices than a classic neo-Nazi group.
“No other white supremacist group operating in the US today is able to match Patriot Front’s ability to produce media, ability to mobilize across the country, and ability to finance,” says Morgan Moon, investigative researcher with the ADL Center on Extremism. “That’s what makes them a particular concern.”
The group focuses primarily on recruiting young men to their cause, with propaganda and messages specifically tuned to the same demographic as its leader, Thomas Rousseau, who founded the group when he was a teen. He spun it off from another white nationalist group, Vanguard America, which he left in 2017 after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.