The FBI and Michigan state police arrested a self-proclaimed leader of the white group The Base and an alleged associate, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Thursday. The suspects were involved in an incident in December 2019 in which the Base allegedly targeted a family home in Michigan, mistakenly believed it belonged to a podcaster criticizing the neo-Nation movement. commune.
Justen Watkins, 25, the man believed to be the leader of the group and Alfred Gorman, 35, both in Michigan, have been charged with charges of gang membership, illegal posting and use. computer to commit crimes. If found guilty, they could face more than 25 years in prison.
According to prosecutors, a man and a woman witnessed two men in dark clothing shining a light and taking pictures on the family̵7;s porch in Dexter, Michigan. The photos were later believed to have been uploaded to The Base’s channel on secret chat app Telegram, and mistakenly identified the house as belonging to a podcaster player, whom Nessel’s office said had never lived in. home.
The suspects intended to intimidate podcaster players, Nessel said, and the posting of the message was “intended to carry out behavior that makes people feel persecuted and emotionally distressed.”
“Using intimidation tactics to incite fear and violence constitutes criminal conduct,” Nessel said in a statement. “We cannot allow dangerous activities to achieve their purpose of violence and public harm.”
Prosecutors also said Watkins ran a “hate camp” against members of The Base. Prosecutors said he was accused of leading tactical and weapons training to the participants.
The announcement comes weeks after the intense arrest of more than a dozen militia members accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Five days earlier, a Michigan man who was allegedly hated by authorities and was preparing for an uprising was killed in a gunfight with the FBI as they tried to arrest him, according to the Detroit Free Press .
Thursday’s arrest is not related to the alleged abduction plot.
Federal and state officials earlier this year announced charges against the alleged members of the Georgia Base. The FBI said“in America, including in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.