INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Patriot Front, a white nationalist group and listed hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was within their legal right to march the downtown streets of Indianapolis, according to officials.
“If you believe that a crime might be committed, or once one does, you can investigate that. As far as controlling protected activities, that’s a real slippery slope,” explains Doug Kouns, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and CEO of Veracity IIR.
“You don’t need a permit to march in the streets or on sidewalks, as long as marchers don’t obstruct car or pedestrian traffic. If you don’t have a permit, police officers can ask you to move to the side of a street or sidewalk to let others pass or for safety reasons,” According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana’s website.
While many condemned the group’s beliefs over the weekend, Kouns said it’s difficult for officials to take action without criminal activity. However, he says marches by groups like this raise the concern of what could happen down the road.
“It’s frustrating as an investigator sometimes that you have a strong belief that something might be there, but you don’t– you can’t articulate it, so you can’t do it,” Kouns said.
The FBI of Indianapolis gave I-Team 8 this statement:
“The FBI is committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans to express their views peacefully during demonstrations. We also have a responsibility to ensure public safety and will not tolerate violence or destruction. We are committed to working closely with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to stop any individuals who intend to commit violence or criminal activity under the guise of carrying out a demonstration.”
The FBI provided an additional statement to News 8 on Wednesday:
“When it comes to domestic terrorism, our investigations focus solely on criminal activity of individuals—regardless of group membership—which appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or influence the policy of the government by intimidation or coercion. The FBI does not and will not police ideology.”