Skip to main content

The Base Leader Re-Sentenced in Washtenaw County

LANSING – The leader of The Base – a national white supremacist group that advocates for violence against the government – was re-sentenced by a Washtenaw County judge, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today.

Judge Patrick Conlin sentenced Justen Watkins to 56 months to 20 years. He pleaded guilty to gang membership felonies in connection to a December 2019 incident in Dexter, in which Watkins and his co-defendant, Alfred Gorman, used intimidation tactics at a family’s home and posted messages to other The Base members targeting the home.   

Alfred Gorman pled guilty to Gang Membership Felonies in January 2022 and was sentenced to four years of probation and a one-year jail term which is suspended pending successful completion of probation.

“I refuse to allow domestic terrorists to incite violence against our residents and communities,” said Nessel.  “I am proud to work alongside law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels to safeguard the public from these serious threats and gratified to see justice served.”

In May, Watkins was sentenced to at least 32 months for conspiring to train for a civil disorder in Tuscola County Circuit Court. That case resulted from joint investigations by the Michigan State Police (MSP) Caro Post and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

The May convictions secured against Watkins and others in Tuscola County marked the first in Michigan history that conspiring to train for a civil disorder was charged. This Washtenaw County conviction is also the first time using the gang membership felony when charging a white supremacist terror cell under Michigan law.

Founded in 2018, The Base – which is the literal translation of “Al-Qaeda” in English – is a white supremacy gang that openly advocates for violence and criminal acts against the U.S., and purports to be training for a race war to establish white ethnonationalist rule in areas of the U.S., including Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The group also traffics in Nazi ideology and extreme anti-Semitism.   

Watkins claims to be the leader of The Base and ran a “hate camp” for members of the group, where he led tactical and firearms training for participants with the goal of being prepared for the violent overthrow of the government.