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White supremacist group members arrested for harassing Michigan family

MLive Ann Arbor logo MLive Ann Arbor 10/29/2020 Nathan Clark, mlive.com

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI – A self-proclaimed leader of a Michigan-based white supremacist group, The Base, and an associate of his were arrested Thursday morning on felony charges.

Justen Watkins, 25, of Bad Axe, and Alfred Gorman, 35, of Taylor, were both arrested by the FBI and Michigan State Police Thursday, Oct. 29, after felony charges were issues against them for terrorizing a family in Dexter, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.

The pair are charged in Washtenaw County with one count each of gang membership, unlawful posting of a message and using a computer to commit a crime.

The charges stem from an incident in December 2019 where a family in Dexter was “terrorized” by the two men who, dressed in all black, shined a light in their home, took photos of their property and posted their address online to The Base’s social media platform, according to the AG’s Office.

It is believed the pair mistakenly targeted the home thinking it belong to podcaster Daniel Harper as the photo posted on social media had the caption, “The Base sends greetings to Daniel Harper of the Antifa podcast ‘I Don’t Speak German’.”

White supremacists target Dexter home by mistake

Though a person by the name of Daniel Harper previously lived at the Dexter address, the podcaster has never lived in Dexter and is not related to the previous occupant, officials said.

Harper is the co-host of the “I Don’t Speak German” podcast, which he describes on his Twitter page as “a podcast confronting white nationalism one a--hole at a time.” The episodes discuss stories about white supremacist or nationalist groups at length.

Threats against Harper the podcaster have ranged from online trolling to former U.S. Army Sgt. Jarrett William Smith publishing instructions how to burn down Harper’s home, according to federal investigators. The FBI arrested Smith on Sep. 23 and he was indicted in a Kansas federal court on two counts of distributing explosives information and one count of threatening interstate communication.

“Using tactics of intimidation to incite fear and violence constitutes criminal behavior,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “We cannot allow dangerous activities to reach their goal of inflicting violence and harm on the public. I am proud to work alongside law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels to safeguard the public’s safety from these serious threats.”

The Base, founded in 2018, is a white supremacy organization that openly advocates for violence and criminal acts against the U.S., and purports to be training for a race war to establish white ethno-nationalist rule in areas of the U.S., including Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, officials said.

The group also traffics in Nazi ideology and extreme anti-Semitism, at one point requiring its members to read neo-Nazi books that urge the collapse of Western civilization.

The Base leaders have used online chatrooms to encourage members to meet in-person and engage in military training to prepare for the insurgency against the U.S. government.

Watkins claims to have been appointed leader of The Base, and reportedly ran a “hate camp” for members of the group, where he led tactical and firearms training for participants with the goal of being prepared for the violent overthrow of the government.

The pair are both lodged in the Washtenaw County Jail and have not yet been arraigned. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

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