Kyle Chapman never intended to be famous. The 42-year-old resident of Dale City, California had for much of life remained out of the public spotlight.
But that anonymity disappeared after he attended a March 2017 rally in support of President Donald Trump. Better known now by the moniker “Based Stickman,” much has changed for Chapman since he began taking on antifa protesters.
During a “March-4-Trump” rally in Berkeley, California, Chapman was filmed doing something that immediately shot him into internet stardom.
Clad in a face mask, helmet and shin guards to protect himself from potential attacks by antifa members and other militant left-wing protesters, Chapman also carried with him a shield emblazoned with the American flag in one hand and of course, a long stick in the other hand.
Chapman was filmed busting his stick over the head of a left-wing protester who was attacking a fellow pro-Trump demonstrator. The action earned him the adoration of Trump supporters all across the country.
“That was all self-defense. It was so clearly self-defense that the county DA did not even attempt to indict me for armed assault with a deadly weapon. They went with this trumped up billy club charge because they had nothing with the assault with a deadly weapon — it was so clearly self-defense,” Chapman said in an exclusive interview with Western Journalism.
Chapman spoke to WJ about what happened that day at the Berkeley protest, his worldview, why he continues to partake in conservative activism and the ramifications it has all had on his life.
A Republican who says he was a disillusioned conservative under the administration of former President George W. Bush, Chapman became a supporter of Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential candidacies. This led him to initially favor Rand Paul’s 2016 campaign.
However, Chapman eventually was drawn to Trump’s outsider status and willingness to speak his mind. He now considers his ideology to be in alignment with American nationalism.
Almost nine months into Trump’s White House tenure, Chapman still considers himself strong a supporter of the president. He said Trump has done a lot to drain the swamp and shake up the Washington establishment.
He believes it’s not only important to have political beliefs, but to also ensure you have the right to demonstrate those beliefs. In a time when it seems many on the left seem to be growing less tolerant of dissenting opinions, Chapman says he will no longer stand by and allow progressives to infringe upon his right to free speech.
“We could do one of two things as conservatives to exercise our First Amendment right. In liberal enclaves, you either stop exercising your First Amendment right, go back to being a ‘keyboard warrior’ or an ‘armchair conservative,’ or you can exercise your First Amendment right and your Second Amendment right — which is the right to defend yourself, as I did at the first and second battles of Berkeley,” Chapman said, referring to the first and second protests at Berkeley this year as “battles.”
The conservative activist continually labeled the violent clashes between pro-Trump and anti-Trump protesters as “battles.” For Chapman, there does appear to be a struggle brewing among those who wish to express their political opinions.
Despite facing a potential sentence of eight years in prison for arming himself with what prosecutors are calling a billy club, Chapman feels undeterred in his quest to fight back against what he feels is an increasingly violent left wing.
“It’s clear the left has an issue with violence — organized violence. In groups like BAMN, antifa, the anarchist Black Bloc, Black Lives Matter, the list goes on. They all employ violence to silence people who dissent to their worldview,” he saud.
While many may not agree with Chapman’s tactics, no one can argue with accusations lobbied against the radical leftist groups that have sprung up in recent years. In response to Trump, numerous militant left-wing groups have committed acts of violence against individuals and destroyed property — all in the nameof anti-fascism and anti-authoritarianism.
Yvette Felarca, a national spokeswoman for By Any Means Necessary, was arrested in September for violently clashing with demonstrators during a Patriot Prayer rally in Berkeley, an event also attended by Chapman.
By Any Means Necessary, otherwise known as BAMN, is described by its own members as a militant left-wing organization that initiates protests and litigation against opponents to achieve its goals.
Earlier this month, Western Journalism published an exclusive piece on Felarca and her use of a frivolous restraining order against a Berkeley College Republican student to limit his free speech on campus.
Felarca caught the public’s attention when she was interviewed by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in February. Carlson began the segment by airing footage of Felarca punching a protester in the gut while screaming, “Get the f— off our streets!”
She, along with her allies, is seen knocking the man to the crowd and stomping on him before police intervene. During the interview with Carlson, Felarca did not overtly condemn the use of violence against speech she disagrees with.
“She’s been there since day one. Since the first battle of Berkeley,” Chapman said of his own run-ins with Felarca and her group. The two have obviously been at opposing sides of the Berkeley protests since it all began.
“She’s a communist agitator,” he said of her political affiliation.
While many protests have sprung up around the country, there appears to be a violent element in the clashes at Berkeley not seen elsewhere. In fact, so many violent protests have taken place in the California city this year that an entire Wikipedia page has been dedicated to documenting the series of clashes.
Chapman points to the lack of police action as the reason for all the violence.
“The violence occurs because the police are ordered to stand down. That’s the number one reason,” he said. “It’s very easy to get in there, mix in with the crowds, and mitigate this violence. When people in the crowds see their comrades being taken down, arrested for assaulting people, the violence will slow very quickly when they realize they are going to be arrested.”
However, Chapman does not point the finger at the cops themselves, many of whom he praised for their hard work during such chaotic times. The conservative activist says the inaction by law enforcement stems from orders at the top.
“We have rallies in Berkeley that are famous because the first and second battles of Berkeley — both of these rallies turned extremely violent. The police stood down. They just stood on the sidelines and did nothing. This isn’t a slight against the rank-and-file police officers in Berkeley who are all really great guys. This was an order given by the mayor to the police chief,” he said.
Chapman pointed out that subsequent rallies by his group, ones that did not include any left-wing agitators, were completely peaceful. When the police are allowed to do their job, he says, Antifa members and others are less reluctant to commit aggression.
He has attended his fair share of rallies since becoming a public figure in March, often flying across the country to lead various conservative protests. As he spoke to Western Journalism on Friday, he was in New Orleans, Louisiana, attending his latest event.
Chapman’s life has completely changed. His newfound stardom has him crisscrossing the country, attending rallies and meeting other conservative leaders.
“I hardly have time to sit down and reflect. Ever since March 4, it’s been such a s—storm. It’s wild, man. I’m a dinosaur, I didn’t even know what a meme was. I had a couple hundred friends on Facebook. I had a different kind of life. I’d come home, I’d garden, water my lawn, I’d hang out with my kid,” he said. “Now I have no time for this anymore.”
Chapman, although admitting that he was happier in his previous life, still believes it is all worth it. He described the fulfillment he receives in inspiring people to “stand up and fight for their rights” and having fans all over the world.
His fans have done more than show vocal appreciation. Facing criminal charges for his actions at Berkeley, supporters started a legal defense fund to help him with his legal fees. The page raised close to $90,000 for his courtroom battles.
Despite the financial support, his actions still come with major risks. As of right now, Chapman faces up to eight years in prison for the weapon he brandished at the rally. The jail time is due to Chapman’s prior run-ins with the law (he was convicted in 1993 of armed robbery in Texas and found guilty in 2001 of grand theft in San Diego).
Prosecutors have not offered Chapman a plea deal, and his court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 13.
However, none of this appeared to faze Chapman.
“It takes a certain kind of person to do what I do,” he said. “You gotta be a rough and tumble son of a b—-. If I go to jail — ok, I go to jail. Do a couple years in prison — alright, that sucks. I’ll miss my family, I’ll miss my son. I see it as a working sacrifice for what we’re fighting for.”