A Wisconsin man was caught with a flamethrower, smoke grenades, and fireworks while headed toward a protest in Green Bay over the weekend, WBAY-TV reported.
Matthew Banta, 23, is charged with obstructing an officer and two counts of felony bail jumping, the station reported. He's also "known to be a violent Antifa member who incites violence in otherwise relatively peaceful protests," WBAY said, citing a criminal complaint.
Believe it or not, Banta also is known as "Commander Red," police told the station.
What are the details?
Green Bay police told WBAY they were called for "a whole bunch of white people with sticks, baseball bats and helmets headed... towards the police" on Walnut Street near Webster Avenue on Saturday night.
"I don't know who comes to a protest with a baseball bat for anything other than criminal or illegal activity," Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith noted to the station.
More from WBAY:
A responding officer says he saw four individuals walking towards a protest with baseball bats. One man was wearing a metal helmet with goggles and military-style gear with multiple pouches, and was carrying an Antifa flag. When the officer pulled his squad car in front of the group, they ran away. The officer caught Banta, who was carrying the flag, and says Banta "dropped into the fetal position and began crying." He accused the officer of lying on him; the officer replied nobody was on him.
Banta admitted he was headed to the Green Bay protest but denied he was planning to incite a riot, the station said, adding that a Brown County Court Commissioner set a $2,500 cash bond during his initial appearance Monday.
"It's worrisome when people associated with Antifa come here to Green Bay from out of town for the purpose of protesting here or for the purposes of committing violent acts," Smith also told WBAY.
Persistence doesn't always pay
You might recall our hero from a report in TheBlaze last month. See, a police officer said Banta pointed a loaded rifle at him — and bit and kicked him — during a Waupaca protest Aug. 1.
Image source: Waupaca County Jail
Banta, according to WBAY's story on last month's incident, was charged with:
- second-degree recklessly endangering, use of a dangerous weapon (point a loaded firearm at an officer)
- battery to a law enforcement officer, use of a dangerous weapon (biting an officer)
- battery to a law enforcement officer (kicking an officer)
- resisting an officer, use of a dangerous weapon
- disorderly conduct, use of a dangerous weapon
A criminal complaint also said a bullet was in the rifle's chamber, WBAY noted, adding that police found 117 rounds of ammunition on Banta, as well as an 8-inch straight blade knife in a sheath on his belt.
While Banta posted $10,000 cash bond after last month's incident, a condition of his bond was not being in possession of a dangerous weapon, the station said, citing the Brown County district attorney's office.