Nessel files felony charges against white supremacist group members

Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" march down East Market Street toward Emancipation Park during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Michigan State Police have nabbed two alleged members of another extremist group in Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday, this time for terrorizing a Dexter home and attempting to intimidate the occupants.

Justen Watkins, 25, of Bad Axe, and Alfred Gorman, 35, of Taylor both face charges of gang membership, unlawful posting of a message and using computers to commit a crime. Those charges, respectively. add up to a 20-year felony, a two-year felony and/or a $5,000 fine, and a four-year felony and/or $5,000 fine for each individual.

“Using tactics of intimidation to incite fear and violence constitutes criminal behavior,” Nessel said in a statement. “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.”

Earlier this month, the FBI and state police teamed up with the attorney general’s office to foil an elaborate right-wing extremist plot to allegedly kidnap and murder Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, take hostages at the state Capitol and overthrow state government.

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Nessel told the Advance in a recent interview that incidents like these show there is a greater need for the AG’s Hate Crimes Unit in Michigan than ever before. According to NPR, Michigan is one of several states expected to see a rise in far-right extremist activity around the election.

Watkins and Gorman are both members of the violent white supremacist group “The Base,” a neo-Nazi organization founded in 2018 that seeks to violently overthrow the U.S. government and establish a white ethnostate. Watkins is reportedly the group’s self-described leader. The translation of  “Al Qaeda,” the Islamic terrorist group behind 9/11, also is “The Base.”

The charges against both men stem from a late-night incident in Dexter in December 2019. The suspects targeted a home they mistakenly believed to be the residence of Daniel Harper, co-host of the anti-white nationalist podcast, “I Don’t Speak German,” attempting to harass and intimidate the occupants.

Watkins and Gorman wore dark clothes, shone a light into the family’s home and posted pictures from their porch onto a message board for their group with the caption: “The Base sends greetings to Daniel Harper of the Antifa podcast ‘I Don’t Speak German.’” 

Harper has never lived at that address, according to the occupants.

The charges were filed in Washtenaw County 14A-3 District Court. Arrest warrants were issued early Thursday morning, and both men are now in custody and awaiting arraignment in Washtenaw County. 

Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).