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.
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.
Watkins claims to have been appointed leader of The Base and apparently ran a “hate camp” for members of the group, including tactical and firearms training to prepare for the violent overthrow of the government, police said.
Gorman was an associate of Watkins and The Base, officials said.
Around 11:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Watkins and Gorman dressed in dark clothing and shined a light and took pictures on the front porch of a family’s home in Dexter, according to police. They uploaded the photos to “The Base” channel on the Telegram social media platform with the caption, “The Base sends greetings to Daniel Harper of the Antifa podcast ‘I Don’t Speak German,'" authorities said.
Police said Watkins and Gorman wanted to threaten and intimidate Harper, but Harper didn’t actually live at that house.
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.
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.