Fetal until fatal: The sad case of Antifa's Crying Commander Red

It’s not the risible pathos that makes the story of Matthew “Commander Red” Banta notable. It’s the fact that the Antifa domestic terrorist had to get arrested twice that should raise questions, even with the superficially humorous anecdote of how Banta reacted to it. Police in Green Bay, Wisconsin reported over the weekend that they had caught “Commander Red” with a flamethrower and smoke grenades on his way to a protest, but that he curled up into the fetal position and began crying when detained:

A Neenah man had a flamethrower, smoke grenades and fireworks during a demonstration in Green Bay Saturday night, according to police and prosecutors.

Matthew Banta, 23, is charged with obstructing an officer and two counts of felony bail jumping. …

Green Bay police say they were called for “a whole bunch of white people with sticks, baseball bats and helmets headed… towards the police” on Walnut St. near Webster Ave.

“I don’t know who comes to a protest with a baseball bat for anything other than criminal or illegal activity,” said Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith.

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.

Keep in mind that this is a tactical and strategic response for Antifa members. When approached by superior police force, they attempt to make themselves look like victims of police abuse, or at least nothing more than innocent demonstrators. It might be amusing to watch and to read about later — heck, it is amusing to read that Commander Red cried like an infant — but people should understand it as a tactic.

What is much less amusing, and perhaps even enraging, is that Banta was out on the street at all this past weekend. Just a few weeks earlier, Banta had been charged with pointing a loaded rifle at a police officer, biting and kicking a police officer, and using a dangerous weapon to resist arrest. Not only was the rifle loaded and a bullet chambered in it, Banta was carrying 117 rounds of ammunition at the time to the demonstration. That’s not the kind of weapon nor the ammo load for self-defense, but it does fit an intent to commit an offensive operation.

So why was Banta out on the street again? He only got assessed $10,000 for bail in the first incident despite his multiple charges, and was admonished not to carry dangerous weapons as a condition of his release. Not only did Banta participate in more Antifa actions, he specifically violated that bail arrangement. What did the arraigning judge do in this second instance? He set Banta’s bail at a whopping $2500, a quarter of the bail in the earlier case, even though Banta deliberately violated those conditions. Are they waiting until Banta actually kills someone before addressing the fact that that’s his clear goal?

Banta’s fetal-crying act is a ruse; his strategic acts are what should be grabbing our attention, and the courts’ attention. The reason that domestic terrorists foment violence on the streets is because they have a sense of impunity, which judges and prosecutors feed by not taking these crimes seriously. The sobbing tactic is a joke within a joke, and the best advice we can give is to stop laughing and take these threats seriously. This will only get better when judges and prosecutors begin imposing serious, years-long consequences for the Commander Reds on the streets. Meanwhile, they are just laughing at us through their crocodile tears.