By Kory Goldsmith and Jamie Miller
Thirteen men were arrested – including seven linked to the militia group Wolverine Watchmen – in an alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home.
The men also discussed alleged plans to storm the Michigan capitol building, and a third objective was to instigate a civil war by targeting members of law enforcement.
Adam Fox, the reported leader of the group, was residing in Grand Rapids at the time of his arrest. The other six men involved were: Barry Croft who is from Delaware, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, the rest were from Michigan. Six more men were arrested on federal conspiracy to kidnap charges for their part in the plot.
According to the FBI affidavit, the group’s alleged plan was to taze and kidnap Whitmer after diverting law enforcement with an explosion at a bridge nearby. The men planned on transporting her to an undisclosed location in Wisconsin where she would be unofficially tried for treason.
“All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never ever amount to violence,” Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan said at the 1 p.m press conference.
Attorney General Dana Nessel expressed her gratitude for the law enforcement officials across the state who helped foil the kidnapping plot.
Several hours after the arrests were announced, Whitmer held a press conference.
“When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago,” Whitmer said. “I knew this job would be hard. But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this.”
The suspects in this plot were inspired to do this due to them believing that Whitmer’s executive orders during COVID-19 were a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The group’s alleged goal was to “kill tyrants.”
“Here’s what I know,” Whitmer said. “We’re Michiganders. We have grit, heart, and we are tough as hell. We made it through the Great Recession, we made it through audio bankruptcy, we made it through flood and polar vortexes. None of us faced a challenge like COVID-19. Not in our lifetime.”
During the press conference Whitmer brought up what President Donald Trump said during the presidential debate where he refused to condemn white supremacists.
“When our leaders speak, their words matter,” Whitmer said. “They carry weight. when our leaders meet with, encourage, or fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions and they are complicit. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit.”