GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A Neenah man identified as an Antifa member is facing multiple charges in Brown County court after police found him and a group of bat-wielding individuals joining an unlawful assembly in Green Bay in August.
According to the criminal complaint, 23-year-old Matthew Banta has been charged with Obstructing an Officer and two counts of Felony Bail Jumping. If convicted, Banta could face up to 12 and a half years in prison and no more than $30,000 in fines.
During a Community Update with WFRV Local 5, Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith says one of his officers noticed a man attempting to join what was determined to be an unlawful assembly on Saturday in Green Bay. The officer recognized the suspect and approached him. At that time, a group that was with the suspect, armed with bats, left the scene and attempted to enter a nearby house.
The suspect was reportedly carrying an Antifa flag, a propane tank with a sort of torch or flame thrower on it, pyrotechnics like firework rockets, smoke grenades, and a bag full of rocks.
In the criminal complaint, authorities say Banta was “identified as ‘Commander Red’ from an informational bulletin sent out” to the Green Bay Police Department.
When Banta was stopped for attempting to join the protest – which police had declared an unlawful assembly – Green Bay Police say he was wearing a metal helmet, goggles, military-style web gear with pouches, multiple bags, and a medical pouch. Banta “is known to be a violent Antifa member who incites violence in otherwise relatively peaceful protests,” according to the criminal complaint.
Authorities found Banta in possession of smoke grenades, two firework rockets, bottle rockets, a flamethrower with a propane tank, and pouches of rocks.
Banta is also facing multiple charges in Waupaca County. Court records show he has been charged with 2nd Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, two counts of Battery or Threat to Judge, Prosecutor, or Law Enforcement Officer, Resisting or Obstructing an Officer, and Disorderly Conduct.
Banta was released from the Waupaca County Jail in early August after the $10,000 cash bond was posted.
He is scheduled to appear in Waupaca County Court at the end of September.
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