DEARBORN (WWJ) – More serious charges have been filed against two men who walked into the Dearborn Police Department wearing tactical vests and masks — one of them with a shoulder-mounted rifle.
James Baker, 24, and Brandon Vreeland, 40, were arraigned separately in 19th District Court Friday morning.
Baker of Leonard, Michigan, is charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Brandishing a Weapon, Resisting Arrest, and Disturbing the Peace. Vreeland, of Jackson, was charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Resisting Arrest, and Disturbing the Peace.
Both pleaded not guilty.
In asking for a substantial bond, Dearborn Police Sergeant Jamie Carpenter told the judge the two are a threat to society.
“There’s discussion about having a death wish, making funeral arrangements and embracing the idea of being known as the public enemy,” Carpenter said.
“They appear to be in competition with other activists regarding their conduct, and then try to push the envelope every time to provoke the police further and further as an organized group that are, in my opinion, professional provocateurs, pushing the police to almost engaging in a deadly force scenario.”
Carpenter said that in text messages, Baker and Vreeland discussed taking advantage of “Trumpaphobia” by dressing in Muslim robes and headgear and carrying AK-47s while protesting in Dearborn.
Also allegedly discussed in texts: carrying bazookas and mortar tubes and strapping deactivated grenades onto their bulletproof vests, as well as planning more open-carry demonstrations at police departments.
“There’s been discussion of carrying openly ‘while black’ and painting their faces black to conceal their identity,” Carpenter said, “and walking around residential neighborhoods with hoods pulled up to incite fear in the public and provoke the police.”
Bond was set at for Baker, who held the rifle, at $50,000 cash or surety and $20,000 for Vreeland, who shot video.
As the pair entered the Deaborn PD on Feb. 5, at least one of them with a covered face, two police officers start yelling at them to put down their weapons.
Otherwise “you’re dead…I will put a round in you, sir,” one officer said. The men protest several times that what they’re doing is legal before they eventually comply.
Both were arrested at the scene and were previously arraigned on misdemeanor charges.
Defense attorney Nicholas Somberg says the his clients were “peacefully assembling,” broke no laws and that the bonds were outrageously high.
He compared what the men did to how Rosa Parks fought for civil rights.
“Peoples’ right are won by people doing controversial things,” Somberg told WWJ’s Laura Bonnell and other reporters. “When Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus — you weren’t supposed to do that, that was outrageous, that caused outrage, the police were outraged. But this is how rights are won.”
If they post bond they will each have to wear a GPS tether. Both were ordered to turn over all of their firearms to Dearborn police.
“The ultimate objective is public safety for everyone; including police officers,” Dearborn police Chief Donald Hadad said in a statement.
A probable cause conference in the case has been set for March 10, and a preliminary exam was scheduled for March 17.