On Thursday, the FBI released documents indicating that the recent arrest of several men in Michigan was related to their plan to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The men, led by Adam Fox, had been meeting in secretive gatherings in the basement of Fox’s Grand Rapids business. Throughout their planning of an attack on the governor, they discussed various avenues they could use to target her.
An FBI informant was present for many of these meetings, and was able to keep law enforcement informed about the men’s activities. At various points, Fox and his co-conspirators, including Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft, Kaleb Franks, Ty Garbin, and Daniel Harris, conducted “combat exercises”. They attempted to rig together explosives and even considered hiring a “demo guy” to help in their plot.
Domestic Terror Group
The right-wing domestic terror group was uncovered by the FBI during an armed clash in April. Shortly following the implementation of Governor Whitmer’s coronavirus policies, far-right “militia” groups toted guns into the Michigan state capitol in Lansing.
During this period, President Donald Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” a message his supporters took as condoning their actions.
During this period, Whitmer was often the target of far-right ire over strict coronavirus policies. The groups, which bristle at perceived governmental overstep, were quick to decry Whitmer and other Democratic governors.
Following the news of the conspiracy breaking, Whitmer issued a public statement. “When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard,” the governor told reporters. “But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this.”
Terror Group Faces Charges
Fox and his co-conspirators, Caserta, Croft, Franks, Garbin, and Harris are facing federal charges for their plan to kidnap the governor. Seven other men who are affiliated with right-wing “militia” Wolverine Watchmen face state anti-terror charges.
The episode immediately drew widespread media attention. On social media, many were quick to point out that mainstream outlets are hesitant to call extremist “militias” what they actually are: domestic terror groups.
For her part, Governor Whitmer called on people to stay united in the battle against COVID-19. She stated that she hopes that the charges against the domestic terror suspects “lead to convictions, bringing these sick and depraved men to justice”.
Further, Whitmer reminded the public “we are not one another’s enemy, the virus is our enemy”. She also acknowledged the role Trump has had in stoking fear and violence among right-wing extremists. “Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry, as a call to action,” Whitmer noted.