The self-proclaimed local head of a national white supremacist group and an associate have been charged with terrorizing a Michigan family at their home — where they mistakenly believed an outspoken critic of the hate movement lived, authorities said Thursday.
Justen Watkins, 25, of Bad Axe, claims he was appointed as a leader of The Base – a militant neo-Nazi group that emerged in 2018 – and reportedly ran a “hate camp” where he trained members in preparation to overthrow the government, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.
Watkins, along with his associate, Alfred Norman, 35, of Taylor, are accused of taking photos on the porch of the family’s Dexter home and later sharing them to the hate group’s channel on the Telegram app with a threatening caption.
“The Base sends greetings to Daniel Harper of the Antifa podcast ‘I Don’t Speak German,’” it read.
Nessel said the pair shared the photo to encourage members of the hate group to intimidate Harper for co-hosting the podcast, which aims to confront white nationalism “one asshole at a time,” according to Harper’s Twitter bio.
“Through their actions, Watkins and Gorman intended to threaten and intimidate Harper, whom they mistakenly believed to reside at the victims’ home,” Nessel said in a statement.
Watkins and Gorman, who were arrested Thursday, were charged with gang membership, unlawful posting of a message and using computers to commit a crime.
If convicted on all charges, they face a maximum of 26 years in prison.
The men are not connected to another alleged extremist scheme in Michigan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Members of The Base fashion themselves as soldiers tasked with defending the “European race” against a system debased by Jewish values, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“The Base wants to establish a nationwide network of people who believe in the use of violence to overthrow the existing social and political order,” the ADL’s website on the group reads.
“The group sees non-white people as enemies of the white race and envisions a coming race war, which will be sparked by ‘non-European races.’”
In January, a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist and two Maryland men with purported ties to the group were arrested by the FBI just days before they were allegedly headed to a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia, the Associated Press reported.