COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - After a two-year hiatus, “Pride in the Park” returns to Coeur d’Alene City Park. The event begins at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and runs through 3:00 p.m., boasting a free, family-friendly event with food, performances, activity areas, and over 50 booths from local artisans and businesses to enjoy.
But according to the Panhandle Patriots in a video addressing a community meeting in Kootenai County, there will be a counter event happening Saturday as well. The group states they are a North Idaho group of motorcycling patriots who stand up for the Constitution and community.
In their video, the rhetoric used by Panhandle patriots was seemingly calling for violence, stating, "We're having an event the very same day. That very same day, we actually intend to go head to head with these people. A line must be drawn in the sand.
"Good people need to stand up. She was talking about the repercussions—we say damn the repercussions. Stand up, take it to the head. Go to the fight."
RC Panhandle Patriots president, Michael Birdsong, said it was taken out of context.
“We have zero problems against anybody who is gay, or whatever they choose to call themselves, whatever gender,” Birdsong said. “I mean, it's not our lifestyle, but we are not people to judge.”
Birdsong emphasized that their event is a peaceful protest against what he claims are 'grooming books,' books allegedly 'geared toward pedophilia.'
The two events do not technically overlap. The RC Panhandle Patriots event is slated from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday.
For North Idaho Pride Alliance, Saturday's Pride event holds special significance.
Jessica Mahuron, Outreach Director for the North Idaho Pride Alliance, said, "In 2021 and 2022, we have seen a massive uptick of hate, disinformation, and legislation targeting the very existence of queer people, their families, and all who love and support them."
The event, Mahuron says, is not just for LGBTQ+ Pride this year. "We welcome all, even those not currently connected with the LGBTQ+ community, to join us in positivity. We are just one group of people that have been targeted in North Idaho within the last two years.
"We offer our celebration as a way to stand in solidarity against bullying and intimidation by gathering in the very opposite of that - in kindness, neighborliness, and love."
To those who oppose the group and event, Mahuron said, "We ask at a minimum you acknowledge and respect the 1st Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech that we all as Americans enjoy."
The theme of the event this year is 'Exist Louder.'