TAYLOR, Mich. – Officials arrested the self-proclaimed leader of the white supremacist group “The Base," who apparently ran a “hate camp" in Michigan for members to prepare to violently overthrow the government, police said.
Authorities said the group advocates violence and aims to set up a white society in the Pacific Northwest or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The Justice Department calls The Base a “violent extremist group.”
Justen Watkins, 25, of Bad Axe, and Alfred Gorman, 35, of Taylor, were taken into custody around 6 a.m. Thursday when Michigan State Police troopers and FBI agents executed an arrest warrant at their homes, according to authorities.
The crime occurred Dec. 11, 2019. Police said the two men walked around a home in Dexter late at night, taking photos and posted them on the internet as a threat to Daniel Harper.
Harper works on a podcast that exposes the inner workings of hate speech and neo-Nazi groups.
He did not live at the home.
The FBI Detroit joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the incident and identified the two men from the Dec. 11 incident that belonged to The Base.
Officials said The Base openly advocates for violence and criminal acts against the U.S. and purports to be training for a race war. At one point, the group required members to read neo-Nazi books urging the collapse of Western civilization, authorities said.
While sharing similar ideologies -- such as planning for a violent revolution against the government -- the men arrested were not involved in the domestic terrorism plot to kidnap and potentially kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Watkins and Gorman are charged with gang membership, unlawful posting of a message and using computers to commit a crime -- all felonies.
The charges were filed Thursday in Washtenaw County’s 14A-3 District Court.