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Man accused of inciting violence at protests bound over for trial in Waupaca County case

Matthew Banta is charged with pointing a loaded gun at a Waupaca officer.
Matthew Banta is charged with pointing a loaded gun at a Waupaca officer.(Waupaca County Jail)
Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 11:17 AM CDT
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WAUPACA COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A man accused of attempting to incite violence at peaceful protests in Northeast Wisconsin was bound over for trial Thursday in Waupaca County.

Matthew Banta is facing charges in both Waupaca County and Brown County related to arrests at separate protests.

A criminal complaint filed in Brown County claims Banta aligns with Antifa and goes by the name “Commander Red.”

During Thursday’s hearing, the court ruled there was probable cause for the case against Banta to proceed in Waupaca County. District Attorney Veronica Isherwood requested Banta’s $10,000 bond be revoked, but the court declined. Instead, the court amended conditions of bond state that Banta cannot be in possession of fireworks on public property. Also, he cannot have baseball bats or wooden clubs on public property “except for in a baseball diamond.” Banta was ordered to have no dangerous weapons.

Prosecutors in Waupaca County have filed the following charges against Banta:

  • 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

On Aug. 1, Waupaca Police were called to a protest where people were marching down the middle of E. Fulton St. Police told them they had to get out of the street.

Officers came in contact with Matthew Banta. He was carrying a rifle and repeated the phrase: “is that what you call protecting and serving?” Banta got in front of an officer and said, “You can do what you want, but we are going to continue to march.” The officer said he told Banta that if he did not get out of the roadway, he would be arrested.

The officer reached for Banta’s left arm to attempt to arrest him. Banta stepped back and started down a ditch. The officer reached for Banta’s backpack. That’s when Banta “began raising his rifle.” Banta fell back and kicked at the officer, making contact with the officer’s legs. Banta tried standing and “he again began raising his rifle toward [VICTIM OFFICER],” reads the complaint. The officer said he feared for his life and those around him. The officer grabbed Banta by the shoulders and “threw him onto the ground and held him to the ground.”

“Banta was laying on his hands and the rifle was now underneath him,” reads the complaint. “Banta was then moving his hands around and as though he was trying to manipulate the gun.”

Police say they told Banta to get his hands off the gun. The crowd started screaming for police to get off Banta. The officer reached for Banta’s hand. Banta bit the officer in the right forearm, according to the complaint.

Police were able to secure Banta and put him in handcuffs.

Police say Banta’s rifle was loaded and a bullet was in the chamber. They found 117 rounds of ammunition on Banta. He was also carrying an eight-inch straight blade knife in a sheath on his belt, according to the complaint.

On Aug. 26, Banta was arrested during a protest in Green Bay. Police say he had a flamethrower, smoke grenades and fireworks.

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.

Police caught up with Banta, who “dropped into the fetal position and began crying.” He accused the officer of lying on him; the officer replied nobody was on him.

Banta acknowledged he was headed to the Green Bay protest but denied he was planning to incite a riot.

Brown County prosecutors charged Banta with obstructing an officer and two counts of felony bail jumping.

A Brown County Court Commissioner set a $2,500 cash bond during his initial appearance on Monday.

Online court records list a Neenah address for Banta.

Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.

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