Antifa ‘commander’ with flamethrower dropped to fetal position and began crying during arrest, cop says

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A known “violent” Antifa leader in Wisconsin allegedly burst into tears when confronted by police as he was headed to a Black Lives Matter rally with incendiary devices.

Matthew Banta was reportedly carrying an Antifa flag and various items such as a flamethrower, smoke grenades and fireworks on the way to the demonstration in Green Bay on Saturday. Known as “Commander Red,” Banta apparently “dropped into the fetal position and began crying” when stopped by police, according to WBAY.


(Source: WBAY via MRC-TV)

Banta “is known to be a violent Antifa member who incites violence in otherwise relatively peaceful protests,” according to the criminal complaint. He was arrested after Green Bay police were reportedly called for “a whole bunch of white people with sticks, baseball bats and helmets headed… towards the police.”

“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 said.

The 23-year-old from Neenah denied that he was planning to incite a riot when stopped by police but did admit that he was headed to the Green Bay protest.

According to 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, who was charged with obstructing an officer and two counts of felony bail jumping, was one of 15 people arrested at Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protest which devolved into a riot.

Released on Monday on $2,500 bond, according to court records, Banta was already out on a $10,000 cash bond for a previous arrest. He was charged last month with second-degree recklessly endangering safety and four other charges in Waupaca County after allegedly pointing a loaded gun at a police officer and biting and kicking an officer during a protest, 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,” the police chief said.

President Trump reacted to a story about Banta’s arrest in a tweet early Wednesday, writing, “We catch them all!”

A statement from Black Lives United-Green Bay said the group was “not discouraged” when peaceful protests are used as a way to incite violence.

“We don’t see rioting as taking away from our message because it actually reinforces the state of emergency that we are in. Folks out in the streets screaming #BlackLivesMatter and their names – we see you and the risk you are taking on behalf of all of us,” the group said. “We will eradicate white supremacy. We will build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by state and vigilantes.”

Saturday’s protest in downtown Green Bay was declared an “unlawful assembly” after the demonstrations became violent as the police chief noted.

“An unlawful assembly is three or more people who gather in such a manner where property damage, or personal injury is likely to occur. We determined this was happening on Washington Street,” Smith explained. “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.”

Smith noted that he has zero tolerance for the violence, asserting that “burning buildings, hurting people, shooting, looting, vandalizing, there’s absolutely no way that is a form of protest.”

“That’s criminal behavior,” he said, according to WLUK-TV.

Twitter users mocked Banta for his actions and for his alleged breakdown when police stopped him.

 

 

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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