by WorldTribune Staff, September 2, 2020
Police in Green Bay arrested a Wisconsin man who they said was carrying a flamethrower, smoke grenades and fireworks while headed toward a “protest,” a report said.
Matthew Banta, 23, was charged with obstructing an officer and two counts of felony bail jumping, WBAY-TV reported.
Banta, known as “Commander Red,” is “known to be a violent Antifa member who incites violence in otherwise relatively peaceful protests,” WBAY reported, citing a criminal complaint.
Green Bay police told WBAY they were called to an incident where “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 told WBAY.
The TV station reported that 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 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.
WBAY reported last month that Banta had been arrested in Waupaca after he pointed a loaded rifle at an officer and bit and kicked him.
A criminal complaint 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 eight-inch straight blade knife in a sheath on his belt.
Banta was charged with:
• 2nd 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
Banta made an initial court appearance Aug. 3 where his cash bond was set at $10,000, WBAY said, adding that court records show bond was posted.