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News of the Day: Thwarted plan to kidnap Michigan governor had ties to protests against stay-at-home orders

In an interview yesterday with Rachel Maddow, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel affirmed the May protests at the Michigan capitol were “crucial” for the alleged domestic terrorists’ organization and recruitment of new members.

Earlier that day, the Department of Justice announced six men were arrested and charged with conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The FBI began an investigation earlier this year due to discussions on social media about violently overthrowing the government. The FBI and Michigan State Police arrested the alleged domestic terrorists when they met to pool funds for explosives and exchange tactical gear.

Gov. Whitmer
Image: Michigan Municipal League.

“Whenever extremists move into the realm of actually planning violent acts, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force stands ready,” Josh P. Hauxhurst, a special agent, said. 

Nessel also charged seven others in conjunction with the foiled plan. The suspects are known to be affiliated with militia group Wolverine Watchmen. They allegedly made plans to attack the capitol building, kidnap government officials and instigate a civil war. 

“There has been a disturbing increase in anti-government rhetoric and the re-emergence of groups that embrace extremist ideologies,” Nessel said. “This is more than just political disagreement or passionate advocacy. Some of these groups’ mission is simply to create chaos and inflict harm upon others.” 

This comes just days after the release of the most recent Homeland Threat Assessment report. In a foreword by the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, he says, “I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years.” 

Wolf later clarified that this does not denote white supremacy, or any other specific kind of threat, as a “top domestic threat to the Homeland.” He also noted the report does not say that any groups are inspired by the rhetoric of President Donald Trump. 

Trump’s response to the foiled kidnapping was a series of tweets acknowledging the role of the federal government in the investigation. Mostly, he condemned Whitmer’s response to COVID-19. 

Haley Bosselman
Haley Bosselman is the editor-in-chief of Culturas. She grew up in Orange County and moved to Los Angeles after earning her bachelor's degree in journalism from Arizona State University. In May 2020, Haley completed the Master of Science in journalism program at the University of Southern California. She's written a lot about music, but is geared toward any culture-related storytelling.
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