Green Bay, WI – An antifa “leader” known as “Red Commander” curled up in a ball and cried when he was busted by Green Bay police last Saturday night for carrying a flamethrower and military-grade smoke grenades to a protest.
The incident occurred at about 9 p.m. on Aug. 29 when “a whole bunch of white people with sticks, baseball bats, and helmets” were going “towards the police” who were attempting to disperse an “unlawful assembly” in downtown Green Bay, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
The criminal complaint said that police spotted the “Red Commander” – 23-year-old Matthew Banta -and three other antifa at South Webster Avenue and East Walnut Street, carrying bats and an antifa flag as they headed toward the protest.
“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 told reporters at a press conference afterwards, WBAY reported.
One of the men in the group was wearing military-style gear with multiple pouches, goggles, and a metal helmet, and carrying a pole with the antifa flag.
Banta and his cohorts fled when an officer pulled his police cruiser up in front of them, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
Police caught up with Banta first and took him into custody, WBAY reported.
The complaint said that Banta, who was the one carrying the flag, “dropped into the fetal position and began crying.”
Then he accused the officer of laying on top him and the officer told him that nobody was on top of him, WBAY reported.
The complaint said that officers found “military grade 5 minute” smoke grenades, firework rockets, a flamethrower, and antifa stickers in the bag Banta was carrying, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
Banta admitted he was going to the protest but said he wasn’t planning to incite a riot despite the supplies he carried, WBAY reported.
The three other protesters who fled when police arrived ran up to a house and tried to get inside.
The homeowner did not let them in and told police they didn’t know who the people were, WBAY reported.
They all dropped the riot supplies they were holding and told police they’d brought the items to use for self-defense.
The three antifa with Banta were detained by police but eventually released without charges, WBAY reported.
“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,” Chief Smith said.
The criminal complaint said Banta “is known to be a violent Antifa member who incites violence in otherwise relatively peaceful protests,” WBAY reported.
He was charged with obstructing an officer and two counts of felony bail jumping.
A Brown County court commissioner set Banta’s bond at $2,500 during his arraignment on Monday, WBAY reported.
Banta was already facing charges in Waupaca County in connection with a protest there in August.
Police said he pointed a loaded gun at an officer and bit and kicked an officer during a protest, WBAY reported.
Banta was charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officers, resisting an officer, and disorderly conduct for that incident.
He was released on a $10,000 cash bond but one of the conditions of his release said he couldn’t have any dangerous weapons, like a flamethrower, for example.
Police made 15 arrests during the unrest in Green Bay on Saturday night, WBAY reported.
“An unlawful assembly is three or more people who gather in such a manner where property damage, or personal injury is likely to occur,” Chief Smith explained. “We determined this was happening on Washington Street. What was happening was a large group of people had blocked traffic on the street had engaged in throwing a bottle at somebody, were pulling up manhole covers off the street and were blocking traffic.”