Neo-Nazis Arrested For Stalking Wrong Family In Wrong House
Two alleged members of The Base, a violent neo-Nazi terrorist group, have been arrested in Michigan for threats they made online.
Justen Watkins, 25, and Alfred Gorman, 35, were arrested Thursday morning on charges related to harassing and threatening a Michigan family whose house they mistakenly believed was the home of antifascist podcaster Daniel Harper. The home was actually occupied by a man named Richard Shea, his wife, and their infant child — none of whom, to anyone's knowledge, hosts a podcast of any kind.
According to an affidavit filed by Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Sherry Workman, on December 11 of last year, the two men dressed up in skull masks and took pictures of themselves posing menacingly on the Sheas' porch, prompting the family to contact the police. Not long after, the men posted those pictures on The Base's publicly available Telegram page with the caption "The Base sends greetings to Daniel Harper of the Antifa podcast 'I Don't Speak German.'
Man in a skull mask standing outside of a house.
The Sheas' address was the target of a harassment campaign by members of The Base and other neo-Nazi groups, based on the incorrect belief that a podcaster who said mean things about Nazis lived there. The harassment was ratcheted up after the post went live. Even after Watkins realized he had gotten the wrong address, he bragged online that "message got across even with the wrong house too."
The men now face charges of unlawfully posting a message, gang membership, and using a computer to commit a felony.
Watkins, for his part, claims to be the new official leader of The Base, saying that he was personally appointed by founder Rinaldo Nazzarro (aka "Norman Spear," aka "Roman Wolf") when he stepped down earlier this year after being outed by The Guardian.
Nazzarro started The Base (the English translation of Al Qaeda, coincidentally or not) back in 2018, after he went to go meet up with white nationalist radio personality Harold Covington, who had hoped to turn the entire Pacific Northwest into some kind of whites-only country, even though that one other guy couldn't even pull that off in a North Dakota town with 16 people in it. Covington, however, did not show up, on account of how he was dead. Not long after, Nazzarro decided that taking over the Pacific Northwest was not enough and that he needed to assemble terrorist cells of white supremacists who would be willing to fight a race war. This is how The Base was born.
Nazzarro didn't just want casual white supremacists. No. He wanted violent ones. He wanted his own little army of Dylan Roofs out there doing mass shootings and other acts of terrorism. He recruited prospective members from far right sites and vetted them by quizzing them on their appreciation of SIEGE, the newsletters written by James Mason, another white supremacist who wanted to overthrow the country and who once tried to start another white supremacist group with Charles Manson that he had hoped would be like the Manson Family 2.0. It was not.
Similarly, Justen Watkins is not just some keyboard warrior who spent a lot of time on 4chan screaming racial epithets. He probably did that, too, but he also ran a "hate camp" in Bad Axe, Michigan, for Base members to get together with their assault rifles and train for the race war.
The affidavit states:
In November 2019, Watkins was identified as a member of The Base, who conducted recruiting and produced propaganda material for the group. The same month, Watkins ran a "hate camp" for members of The Base in Bad Axe, MI where Watkins led tactical and firearms training for members of The Base. The training was documented in videos used to make recruitment and propaganda videos for The Base.
Additionally, in early 2020 Watkins submitted a manifesto he wrote to numerous Instagram users on the status of The Base that was also shared on public The Base social media channels. Within the manifesto Watkins made the declaration (emphasis in original text): "I will train with firearms, explosives, knives, Ryder trucks, and anything else I have to destroy this K*KE SYSTEM THAT IS GENOCIDING MY people." He concluded the shared writing with the following call for violence (emphasis in original text): "To victory with PURE UNADULTERATED ARYANVIOLENCE! HAIL TERROGRAM!"
He seems nice.
Watkins and Gorman are not the only members of The Base to be arrested this year. In January, several of their highest ranking members were arrested for planning various terrorist attacks, including the planned brutal murder of a Georgia couple they believed to be "antifa." They were outed by another of their highest ranking members, who turned out to be an FBI agent. Not long after that, Rinaldo Nazzarro, having been exposed, left the group, giving the remaining higher-ups access to all the emails and social media passwords they would need to go on in his absence.
That didn't work out too well either. Turns out that one of the people Nazzarro entrusted with this delicate information was in fact an infiltrator, and soon enough, their social media profiles were littered with memes mocking him.
From there, things pretty much just imploded. And that was when Justen Watkins was allegedly put in charge.
It is not entirely clear what the current state of The Base is, how many people are involved or who will be in charge now that Watkins is likely going to prison. Hopefully no one.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse