I can’t imagine why anyone in Michigan would think it was okay to plan a terroristic kidnapping and execution of the state governor?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
Well that tweet explains it…
From The Detroit News (emphasis mine)
The FBI says it thwarted what it described as a plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The alleged plot involved reaching out to members of a Michigan militia, according to a federal affidavit filed Thursday.
The court filing also alleges the conspirators twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer’s personal vacation home and discussed kidnapping her to a “secure location” in Wisconsin to stand “trial” for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”
More than 12 people were arrested late Wednesday on state and federal charges.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, federal and state officers on Thursday detailed charges and what they described as “elaborate plans” to overthrow the government and kidnap Whitmer.
Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper said the department will take swift action against those seeking to harm anyone in the state of Michigan.
“This case is one of the largest cases in recent history that the MSP has been involved in,” Gasper said during an afternoon news conference.
The affidavit filed in federal court details probable cause to charge the six men with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Those identified by name include:
- Adam Fox
- Barry Croft
- Kaleb Franks
- Daniel Harris
- Brandon Caserta
In late June, Fox posted on Facebook a video in which he complained about the state’s judicial system and COVID-19 restrictions on gyms operating in Michigan.
“Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as ‘this tyrant b—-,’ and stated, ‘I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something,” according to the court affidavit. “You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.”
The affidavit describing the thwarted plot reports two occasions when the alleged conspirators conducted surveillance on Whitmer’s vacation home — during the day on Aug. 29 and at night over the weekend of Sept. 12-13.
Fox and two other individuals located Whitmer’s home and shot video and took photos of it as they drove by on Aug. 29. One of the individuals then calculated how long it would take local and state police to respond to an incident at the property.
“We ain’t going to let ’em burn our f—in’ state down. I don’t give a f— if there’s only 20 or 30 of us, dude, we’ll go out there and use deadly force,” said Fox during the surveillance operation, according to an audio recording quoted in the affidavit.
In an encrypted group chat, Garbin later suggested that demolishing a nearby bridge would hamper a response by police to the governor’s home, according to the court filing.
The September surveillance followed a field exercise in at Garbin’s property in Luther, Michigan, where the conspirators allegedly detonated an improvised explosive device made from a commercial firework wrapped in shrapnel “to test its anti-personnel effectiveness.”
After a briefing on the plan to kidnap Whitmer, a larger group of the men drive from Luther to the vacation home in three separate vehicles while armed.
They stopped to check the underside of a highway bridge to check for places to attach an explosive charge, and discussed detonating explosive devices to divert law enforcement officers from the area of the governor’s home.
“She f—ing goddamn loves the power she has right now,” Fox said during the surveillance operation, according to the affidavit. “I can see several states takin’ their f—in’ tyrants. Everybody takes their tyrants.”
The group later returned to Garbin’s property, where they discussed destroying Whitmer’s vacation home. “Kidnapping, arson, death, I don’t care,” Franks said, according to the affidavit.
The group later made plans to conduct a final training exercise in late October but then decided that was too close to the November election, so they moved forward with raising money to procure explosives and other supplies including an 800,000-volt taser. It’s unclear when the kidnapping was planned for.
Much more at the link.
In addition to the charges against the six men above, Michigan State Attorney General Dana Nessel has brought state charges against seven additional men and identified the militia involved as the Wolverine Watchmen.
Breaking: Nessel separately charging 7 other men with terrorism crimes – linked to a militia group Wolverine Watchmen — to plan and train for attack on Michigan Capitol building
— David Eggert (@DavidEggert00) October 8, 2020
The Wolverine Watchmen would be the Michigan Militia Corps, Wolverines. The front page of their website provides this information:
A well-armed citizenry is the best form of Homeland Security and can better deter crime, invasion, terrorism, and tyranny. The intention of this website is to inform, promote and facilitate the development and training of the militia. Everyone is welcome, regardless of race, creed, color, religion or political affiliation, provided you do not wish to bring harm to our country or people. If you are a United States citizen (or have declared your intent to become such), who is capable of bearing arms, or supports the right to do so, then YOU ARE the MILITIA!
The Bill of Rights Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN OF 1963 ARTICLE I
§6 Bearing of arms.
Sec. 6. Every person has a right to keep and bear
arms for the defense of himself and the state.
And they have a link to their very long pdf handbook that goes into excruciatingly bad historic detail in asserting and delineating what a militia is, why it is legal under natural and constitutional law, and why it is necessary. For example:
The Militia for Beginners
The militia — sit down, brace yourself, this gets complicated — is: everyone! By definition, the militia consists of “all citizens capable of bearing arms”. I can list everyone and everything we are, but I think “everyone” pretty much covers it; so let’s move on to what we are not.
We are not racists fighting the “great race war…to annihilate the mud people”, we welcome everyone, regardless of the hue of their skin; we are not terrorists advocating violence or destroying buildings in Oklahoma full of men, women, and children, only lunatics do that; we are not right-wing religious extremists fighting “demonically controlled people activated by Satan”, we welcome everyone of every religion, no religion, or anything in between as the case may be.
We are portrayed as above, as it serves the purpose of tainting the legitimacy of our concerns. (Apply the duh theory here.)
The reality is that it is illegal to form a militia in all 50 states. You can find all the state by state details here at Georgetown Law Schools Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, which has produced this handy and easy to use online fact sheet. Here’s the details for Michigan:
Is it legal to act as a private militia in Michigan?
No. All 50 states prohibit private, unauthorized militias and military units from engaging in activities reserved for the state militia, including law enforcement activities. Some, including Michigan, also prohibit paramilitary activity during or in furtherance of a civil disorder. Michigan’s laws are described below:
Michigan Constitution: The Michigan Constitution forbids private military units from operating outside state authority, providing that “[t]he military shall in all cases and at all times be in strict subordination to the civil power.” Mich. Const. art. I, § 7.
Prohibition on paramilitary activity: It is a felony in Michigan to either:
(1) “teach or demonstrate to another person the use, application, or construction of any firearm, or any explosive orincendiary device, if that person knows, has reason to know, or intends that what is taught or demonstrated will be used in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder,” or
(2) “assemble with 1 or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, or any explosive or incendiary device, if that person intends to use that firearm or device in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder.” Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.528a.
Prohibition on falsely assuming functions of a peace officer: It is also a crime in Michigan for any person who is not a “peace officer” to “[p]erform the duties of a peace officer.” A “peace officer” includes a sheriff, deputy sheriff, police officer, federal or state law enforcement officer, and security employee, among others. Mich. Comp. laws § 750.215.
This is thwarted domestic stochastic terrorism. You have a group of people who are illegally conspiring under several Michigan state statutes and the Michigan constitution to undertake what would clearly be illegal violent actions against persons and property. They had tested improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They had planned several types of actions that would have resulted in mass casualties.
DHS finally released their October 2020 domestic threat assessment, that they tried to bury until a whistleblower made that impossible. The assessment makes it very, very, very clear that the predominant terrorism threat to Americans in the US are white supremacists and other right wing domestic extremists and that one of Russia’s major influence operations to disrupt the 2020 elections is to incite terroristic violence by these groups against visible racial, ethnic, and religious minorities.
Updated at 3:05 PM EDT
Here’s the live feed of Governor Whitmer’s press conference: