DOCUMENT: Investigation, Crime

Repeat Felon Is Hero Alt-Right Deserves

Ex-con has cracked heads at Berkeley demos

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Based Stickman

MAY 8--The latest hero of the alt-right, a California man who has beaten and maced anti-Trump protesters on the streets of Berkeley, is a thrice-convicted felon who has served three separate prison terms, jumped bail, twice violated parole, used cocaine, LSD, and meth, and was described by his own lawyer as having “severe psychological problems,” court records show.

Kyle Chapman, a 41-year-old rough boy committed to destroying the “neo-Marxist scourge,” was arrested March 4 following a melee at a rally organized by Trump supporters. While marchers purportedly were there in support of free speech, Chapman--who has spent a combined 10 years behind bars--came dressed for a fight.

Chapman, a Bay Area resident, was one of ten combatants busted, but he alone emerged from the “March on Berkeley” as a fully formed right wing meme. Chapman wore a baseball helmet, shin guards, ski goggles, and a gas mask. He carried pepper spray and swung a large wooden closet rod. Chapman also toted a protective shield, a la Captain America.

At one point during the protest, Chapman broke the closet rod over the head of an opponent. Video of the strike quickly went viral, with fans of the costumed Chapman dubbing him the “Based Stickman” and the “Alt-Knight.”

Following his arrest, Chapman fans raised money for his bail and a legal defense fund has reportedly amassed more than $87,000 (the money, contributors are told, will cover legal fees “as well as financial assistance” for Chapman’s family “if need be”). The fundraising effort has gotten a push from Mike Cernovich, an alt-right leader who saluted Chapman as a “political prisoner.” Chapman has also solicited direct contributions via PayPal and GoFundMe and recently launched a web site that sells “Based Stickman” merchandise.

On April 15, during another Berkeley protest, Chapman, carrying an American flag, was filmed sucker punching a man. He was also recorded atop another man executing a ground and pound attack that left his victim bloody and dazed. As Chapman was landing blows, white supremacist Nathan Damigo was nearby punching a woman in the face and another man--wearing a yellow “Jesus Will Judge You!” hoodie--was stomping on a prone opponent.

“The Communists got their asses handed to them today,” exclaimed Chapman, who promised that his street fighting men were headed to “every liberal stronghold” to confront those who would “take our constitutionally protected rights from us.” He added, “All you cocksuckers in fucking Boston, watch out, we’re coming for you.”

Chapman, pictured in the below mug shots, recently announced the formation of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, a group founded to “protect and defend our right wing brethren” through “street activism, preparation, defense, and confrontation.” The organization, Chapman declared, “is for those that possess the Warrior Spirit. The weak or timid need not apply.” He added, “President Trump has our back for the next 8 years. The timing couldn’t be better. Let’s do this!”

Chapman was more reserved when he returned to Berkeley on April 27 to address the cancellation of author Ann Coulter’s appearance at the University of California, Berkeley. During a brief speech, Chapman--who introduced himself as the “Alt-Knight”--pledged to “fight the radical left” to protect “our right for speech and assembly.” Describing left wing groups as domestic terrorism organizations, Chapman assured the small crowd that, “We are law-abiding Americans who care for the Constitution.” He then urged listeners to thank police officers for “being on the right side of the law.”

Now as for that law-abiding claim, Chapman’s rap sheet begs to disagree.

Chapman’s first felony conviction came days before his 18th birthday in November 1993. Chapman and an accomplice pleaded guilty to a pair of felony robbery charges, according to Texas court records.

Chapman, Houston police charged, pointed a firearm at two victims and demanded money. Though he was only brandishing a pellet gun, Chapman warned, “This is a .44 Magnum. Give me your money or I will shoot you.”

During a 2009 prison evaluation, Chapman told a psychologist that he had been “booted out” of high school “due to disciplinary problems.” Chapman said he joined the Navy in 1993, but never served due to the robbery arrest. He also told the prison doctor that, as a juvenile, he abused alcohol and used LSD and marijuana. But his "substance of choice," Chapman added, was Scotchgard fabric spray, which he huffed.

Sentenced to five years in prison, Chapman served a combined 30 months in custody before being paroled in 1996. During his incarceration, Chapman said, he was repeatedly assaulted by fellow inmates.

Chapman eventually moved to California, where he worked as a bouncer at various San Diego-area strip clubs. During his 2009 psych exam, Chapman said that he stopped drinking while on parole in Texas, but resumed imbibing in California.

Chapman’s next felony conviction came in June 2001, when he pleaded guilty to grand theft. According to Superior Court records, he stole in excess of $400 worth of merchandise from a Macy’s in San Diego. Chapman was sentenced to four years in prison--three years on the grand theft rap and a one-year “enhancement” due to his prior conviction for robbery.

Chapman served a total of two-and-a-half years in custody, according to California court and corrections records. He was twice sent back to prison for violating terms of his parole, resulting in an additional five months behind bars.

After his release from prison, Chapman was under psychiatric care and was prescribed multiple medications for depression and anxiety. When his parole term expired, Chapman later told a psychologist, he “stopped all medication.” But he continued to drink heavily and was abusing the painkiller Vicodin (taking upwards of 30 pills daily). Chapman also acknowledged smoking pot and using cocaine “once in a while.” [The psych report notes that Chapman used methamphetamine as an adult, but it does not specify a time frame.]

Chapman’s most recent felony conviction came as a result of an undercover operation launched by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents and the San Diego Police Department’s street gang unit.

With the help of a confidential informant, investigators determined that an owner of a San Diego tattoo shop was illegally selling guns from the business. Agents suspected that some of the weapons ended up in the hands of local Hispanic street gang members.

On two occasions, Chapman provided the tattoo shop owner with weapons--a shotgun and an assault rifle--that were then immediately resold to the informant. One evening, as Chapman drove from his home to the tattoo shop to deliver the assault rifle, a San Diego Police Department surveillance helicopter followed Chapman's Lexus on the six-mile trip.

Chapman was named in a July 2008 indictment charging him with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Chapman was arrested at his San Diego home, which was simultaneously searched by cops and ATF agents. According to a search warrant inventory, investigators seized body armor, a Ruger pistol, two throwing knives, a bag of "suspected marijuana," metal knuckles, two glass pipes, assorted ammo and shotgun shells, clips, and magazines.

In a plea agreement, Chapman copped to the felony charge related to his possession of the assault weapon.

While free on $35,000 bond posted by his girlfriend (who is now his wife), Chapman went on the lam before his February 2009 sentencing. During his one month as a fugitive, Chapman was “living as a homeless person in river beds,” according to a court filing by his lawyer, who claimed that his client “has severe psychological problems” and suffered from auditory and visual hallucinations and “delusions of persecution.”

After Chapman surrendered to federal agents, a U.S. District Court judge ordered a psychological evaluation to determine whether the felon was “suffering from a mental disease.” A Bureau of Prisons psychologist subsequently concluded that Chapman was not “substantially impaired by a mental disease or defect” and had not exhibited “any symptoms of serious mental illness” while being held in San Diego’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. Regarding a personality test that purported to show that Chapman was “psychologically disturbed,” Dr. Gordon Zilberman found that Chapman likely was “exaggerating or manufacturing symptoms when completing this test.”

In June 2009, Chapman was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison to be followed by a three-year probation term. Among the character references sent to the judge by Chapman’s family and friends was a letter from Chapman’s brother Derek. Sent a day before Chapman became a fugitive, the letter described the defendant as a “generally law abiding person.” Jeff Kugel, who met Chapman in 2007, wrote that “Kyle is very knowledgeable about history and the struggles of mankind against central power structures.” Kugel added that, “It is easy to come across as a little paranoid to the uninitiated when broaching this subject.”

After five years behind bars, Chapman was released from Bureau of Prisons custody in January 2014, at which time his probation sentence began. The terms of his supervised release included periodic drug testing and substance abuse treatment. He was also barred from consuming alcohol, attending gun shows, and possessing body armor, firearms, and ammunition. Chapman was also directed to participate in a mental health treatment program as directed by his probation officer.

Chapman’s federal supervision ended less than two months before the shield-carrying “Alt-Knight” made his March debut on the Berkeley streets. Court records contain no indication that Chapman’s federal probation was violated at any time.

Chapman was arrested on multiple felony counts for his alleged activities during the March 4 protest (which he proudly calls the “Battle of Berkeley”). Prosecutors with the Alameda County District Attorney's office are still reviewing police reports and videos in advance of making a final charging decision when it comes to Chapman and his fellow arrestees.

While Chapman supporters wait to see if the ex-con adds yet another felony charge to his personal docket, they can bide the time in his online store, where $39.99 gets you “The Official Battle for Berkeley Hoodie.” The charcoal garment--a 50/50 cotton blend--is advertised as “As seen on TV, worn by Kyle Chapman,” who always dons the stylish item when battling the hordes laying siege to American ideals. (10 pages)