By Jon King /

Two men identified as members of an extremist white supremacist group were arrested and charged with felony counts related to an incident in Dexter last year.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced multiple felony charges had been filed against 25-year-old Justen Watkins of Bad Axe, the self-proclaimed leader of the group known as "The Base," and an associate, 35-year-old Alfred Gorman of Taylor. Both were arrested at their homes this morning following an investigation by Michigan State Police and the FBI. Nessel said the suspects were seen late in the evening of December 11th, 2019 dressed in dark clothing shining a light and taking pictures on the front porch of the family’s home. The photos were then uploaded to The Base’s channel on the social media platform Telegram with the caption: “The Base sends greetings to Daniel Harper of the Antifa podcast ‘I Don’t Speak German’.”

Nessel said the pair intended to threaten and intimidate Harper, whom they mistakenly believed to reside at the victims’ home. However, Harper never lived at that address and the photo was taken without the victim family’s consent. “Watkins and Gorman’s posting of the message was intended to cause conduct that would make the residents feel terrorized and emotionally distressed,” Nessel said. “Using tactics of intimidation to incite fear and violence constitutes criminal behavior. We cannot allow dangerous activities to reach their goal of inflicting violence and harm on the public. I am proud to work alongside law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels to safeguard the public’s safety from these serious threats.”

Both men were charged in Washtenaw County District Court with Gang membership, a 20-year felony; Unlawful posting of a message, a two-year felony and/or a $5,000 fine; and Using computers to commit a crime, a four-year felony and/or $5,000 fine. The arrests came three weeks after state and federal authorities broke up a plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Whitmer and storm the Capital building in Lansing. Among those charged in that case was Ty Garbin of Hartland Township. However, officials say the two men arrested today had no known connection to that scheme.

The AG’s Office says the The Base was founded in 2018 as a White supremacy organization that openly advocates for violence and criminal acts against the U.S., and purports to be training for a race war to establish White ethnonationalist rule in areas of the U.S., including Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The group also reportedly traffics in Nazi ideology and extreme anti-Semitism, at one point requiring its members to read neo-Nazi books that urge the collapse of Western civilization. Officials say the group’s leaders have used online chatrooms to encourage members to meet in-person and engage in military training to prepare for an insurgency against the U.S. government.

Watkins reportedly ran a “hate camp” for members of the group, where he led tactical and firearms training for participants with the goal of being prepared for the violent overthrow of the government. The photo of the Dexter home was used by The Base to encourage harassment by its members on the family.

Picture - Michigan Attorney General’s Office