SPONSORED:

Two arrested in federal crackdown on extremism in Michigan

Two arrested in federal crackdown on extremism in Michigan
© istock

Two men were arrested in Michigan on Thursday as part of a continued crackdown on extremism, three weeks after a foiled attempt to kidnap Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerPope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Oregon governor urges hosts to 'uninvite' guests MORE (D) by militia groups.

One of the men arrested was 25-year-old Justen Watkins, the self-proclaimed leader of The Base, a white supremacist group. Fellow member Alfred Gorman, 35, was arrested with Watkins during a raid.

In a press release, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the two suspects were connected to a December 2019 incident in which they “terrorized” a family at their home by using “intimidation tactics” and sending messages to other members of The Base to terrorize their home.

ADVERTISEMENT

The victims of the intimidation reported seeing Watkins and Gorman dressed in dark clothing, shining a light and taking pictures while on the family’s front porch. They were apparently attempting to intimidate Daniel Harper, a researcher and host of the podcast “I Don’t Speak German.”

In his self-described “anti-fascist podcast” he observes and dissects what members of alt-right and white supremacists groups are saying. However, Harper did not live at the home that Watkins and Gorman targeted.

The two men were arrested by Michigan state police troopers and FBI agents after a warrant was issued early Thursday morning. They are being held at the Washtenaw County jail.

According to Nessel’s office, The Base is a “White supremacy organization that openly advocates for violence and criminal acts against the U.S.” The group at one point required members to read neo-Nazi books that advocated for the collapse of Western civilization.

As reported by the Detroit News, state and federal investigators have launched several operations this year against members of The Base. Three men connected to the group were arrested in January on charges of conspiring to kill members of a militant anti-fascists group in Georgia.

Speaking to The Detroit News, Jon Lewis, an extremism researcher at George Washington University, said, “While law enforcement has really disrupted their ability to commit acts of domestic terror, these arrests still show a significant threat to the homeland.”

Lewis said that The Base operated firearm training camps similar to those used by the conspirators in the plot to kidnap Whitmer. The members of this organization seek to start a war on minority communities according to Lewis.