The Plot to Kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Sarah Gooneratne, Writer

On October 7, the FBI arrested six men who have been indicted by federal prosecutors for conspiracy to kidnap. The main target of their plan was Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, though Virginia Governor Ralph Northam had also been brought up as a potential victim. If found guilty, the defendants may serve a lifetime sentence in prison. Seven others in connection with the conspiracy have been charged by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for “supporting terrorism, gang membership, and possessing a firearm in commission of a felony,” according to USA Today.

Governor Whitmer has been openly criticized by right-wing groups, who became enraged about her coronavirus response. The governor enforced strict guidelines for operating businesses, adhering to pandemic safety protocols, and lockdowns, in order to inhibit the spread of the virus.

The group formed during the lockdown and communicated online before meeting face-to-face in Dublin, Ohio. The members of the group felt as if Governor Whitmer’s coronavirus response were “violating the U.S. Constitution,” according to CNN. Adam Fox, one of the perpetrators, became a leader within the group and planned to kidnap the governor before the 2020 general election and to try her for “treason”. There were even some plans to kill the governor. Members of the “Wolverine Watchmen”, a local armed militia that the FBI had been warned about earlier this year. One of the members of the Wolverine Watchmen that had joined this new group informed the FBI of the plan to kidnap Governor Whitmer. The informant used a device to record conversations that took place within the group and allowed the FBI to monitor the group and their actions.

The group held meetings in the basement of a vacuum shop, which was owned by Briant Titus, a friend of Fox, who wanted to help him to get his life back together after Fox was evicted by his girlfriend.

The group participated in “tactical training,” creating homemade bombs, and conducting inspection and infiltration of the governor’s vacation home. By the time of their second trip for surveillance of the home, they had unknowingly brought an undercover FBI agent with them.

The group was arrested after an FBI raid. Another group member who was found in Delaware was also arrested and faces federal charges. Three bond hearings were held on October 13, and all three suspects were refused bond. Bond hearings for the other suspects are expected in federal court as early as October 16.

Governor Whitmer has often been criticized by U.S. President Donald Trump because of her coronavirus response. Whitmer blamed him for promoting violence and hate. “Our head of state has spent the past seven months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger, and comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division,” Whitmer said. “Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups. ‘Stand back and stand by,’ he told them. ‘Stand back and stand by.’ Hate groups heard the president’s words, not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they were complicit. When they contribute to hate speech, they are complicit.”