Update, Dec. 23: Kyle Chapman is no longer in custody, according to the county’s inmate locator and social media posts by the right-wing activist. Chapman wrote on Facebook around 1:30 p.m. Saturday that he had posted bail. He received many donations on Back The Right, a conservative crowd-funding platform.
Original story, Dec. 22: Kyle Chapman, who earned the nickname “Based Stickman” after hitting people with a piece of wood at a Berkeley political rally, is back in custody after an Alameda County judge found he violated the terms set at his arraignment in August.
At a hearing Thursday, Judge Yolanda Northridge ruled that Chapman broke a rule prohibiting him from carrying weapons, and raised his bail from $135,000 to $400,000, according to the District Attorney’s office.
Chapman is at Santa Rita jail, according to the county inmate locator, and is due back in court on Jan. 3 for further proceedings.
The 42-year-old right-wing activist is facing the felony charge of possession of what is called a leaded cane or a billy. Chapman’s two prior felony convictions could increase the sentence if he is found guilty.
Chapman, who lives in Daly City, was taken into custody in late August and posted bail the same night. The judge at the time also prohibited him from coming near Berkeley’s Civic Center Park, where right-wing protesters have clashed with anti-fascists at several violent rallies this year, and where another rally was scheduled to occur that week in August. He was also banned from possessing “weapons of any kind.”
On Dec. 19 Chapman was arrested when he drove his truck off-road onto sand on federal land. Chapman posted a video of the incident on Facebook. His exact location is unclear.
“We got a call that somebody was driving off-road here and that’s what attracted our attention,” a federal agent is heard saying in the video. Chapman and his friend had been spending the day driving around San Francisco in what he called a “Commie-crushing” truck, flying an American flag and Donald Trump flag in hopes of provoking reactions. He had a camera running when the officer approached them. The agent took Chapman into custody and impounded his truck, but let the friend go.
Chapman was reportedly found to be in possession of a Kubotan keychain, a sharp metal instrument marketed as a self-defense tool. The keychain is visible at the beginning of the video.
In a separate video, posted online before Thursday’s hearing, Chapman said he needed the weapon to defend himself against attacks by anti-fascist, or antifa, activists.
“Having some means to defend myself is of potentially life-saving importance,” he said. The county prosecutors’ attempts to raise his bail based on his possession of the keychain “is purely politically motivated,” he said. “They are trying to take me off the streets and limit my political activism.”
According to the East Bay Times report from the court room, Chapman’s attorney, John Noonan, argued that his client’s car has been broken into and he needs to protect himself against such attacks. The judge was not convinced that he needed the weapon.
Prosecutors had originally asked for bail to be increased to $500,000, but it was raised to $400,000, or $265,000 more than the initial amount.
Chapman adopted the “Based Stickman” nickname after a violent pro-Trump protest in Berkeley on March 4. After that event, where he was arrested, he gained celebrity status in far-right internet circles, where videos of Chapman bashing an antifa demonstrator with a stick have been turned into countless memes. He has returned to protest in Berkeley many times since, and was arrested again in April.
Chapman and the Proud Boys, a self-identified “Western chauvinist” male group, are soliciting donations online for Chapman’s legal defense fund. In a tweet, the Proud Boys wrote: “This isn’t justice! This is political persecution and an attempt to silence him!”