Several Active Military/Veterans Among Arrested Patriot Front Members

Patriot Front member Winston Durham
Winston Durham  (screen capture)

The concerning trend of active military and veterans taking part in extremist groups continues as  reports several members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front who were arrested on conspiracy to riot charges at an Idaho Pride event last week have military backgrounds.

• Winston Durham, 21, serves as a cadet in the Idaho Army National Guard’s 1-148 Field Artillery Regiment. Placed on leave pending the outcome of his criminal case.

• Lawrence Norman, 32, Navy veteran. Served as a gunner’s mate for four years, rising to the rank of petty officer third class before his separation in 2015.

• Wesley Van Horn, 34, Navy veteran. Served as a builder with the SeaBees for nearly four years before leaving the Navy in 2010 as a seaman.

• James Johnson, 40, served in the Air Force, the service confirmed, though it was not able to offer any details beyond a separation year of 2005.

Kristofer Goldsmith, an Army veteran and senior fellow with the Innovation Lab at Human Rights First, told that military service members and veterans are drawn to extremist groups like Patriot Front and Oath Keepers as they are frequently social outcasts, often unsatisfied economically and romantically or frustrated with other aspects of their lives.

“They promise camaraderie and brotherhood that these guys are not getting,” said Goldsmith. “It’s white rage. They feel they were owed something for being a white male and were denied it. They don’t have good jobs, generally speaking. Some are easily manipulated; others are well off and intelligent who recognize that being a part of a group makes them powerful.”