Plots to blow up bridges, kill police, attack state capitol buildings, and kidnap governors. Sounds like the storyline of an action packed movie, right? Instead, these are allegations made in state and federal criminal cases currently pending against thirteen men associated with a Michigan militia group. And you thought 2020 couldn’t get any more exciting. Wrong! Just what is this latest news story about planned violence all about?
Michigan may be the center of the American automotive industry, but it is also a “hotbed for militia activity” according to Amy Cooter, a Vanderbilt University lecturer who has studied militia groups for over 12 years. Miliita groups tend to support the Second Amendment (think guns) as well as limited government. The Wolverine Watchmen are one of two to three dozen such groups in Michigan which may pose a threat to good order.
What’s got the paramilitary Wolverine Watchmen up in arms both literally and figuratively? COVID-19 strikes again! These Michigan militia members were incensed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s mandates responding to the coronavirus that shut down businesses and imposed strict stay at home orders. An initial stay at home order she entered in March was further tightened in April. The WW complained about Whitmer’s lockdown of the state deeming the restrictions to be onerous and labeling the governor a “tyrant.” (Actually, Wolverines, the correct term is “tyrantess” when a female is being so labeled.)
Desperate times calling for desperate measures, some Wolverine Watchmen decided that Governor Whitmer needed to be stopped by violent means. To get her out of the way, a kidnap plot was proposed. A “snatch and grab” operation to abduct the governor from her vacation home was set in motion.
Although the political target was never grabbed, the group’s activities did grab the attention of the FBI. Federal agents monitoring social media activity noted some concerning statements made by militia members. I’m no criminal, but I’m assuming kidnapping plots are supposed to be secret and thus not discussed or even hinted at on Facebook, but what do I know?
Springing into action, the FBI began using undercover informants and secret recordings to gather information on suspected nefarious activity by the Michigan militia group. In fact, FBI agents infiltrated the group and collected some damning evidence, including pictures. Let’s see the group members try to explain away those great shots of them taking photos of the governor’s vacation cottage.
The alleged (innocent until proven guilty, remember) ringleader of the group, 37 year old Adam Fox, went to great lengths to conceal his activities. According to FBI affidavits, he used encrypted communications, code words, and a secret meeting room disguised beneath a trap door. Pretty clever for a man living in the basement of a vacuum shop.
And boy did Fox (the animal!) mean business. He purchased a high-powered 800,000 volt Taser for a mere $4,000 for possible use in Whitmer’s kidnapping. Since the average police Taser is only 50,000, Fox was not messing around in his efforts to stage a successful kidnapping. Was he really expecting that much resistance from the governor when it came time to grab her? Well, he didn’t want the police to ride to her rescue, so a nearby bridge was identified which could be blown up to prevent them from reaching Whitmer during the kidnapping.
Fox was no dummy and had a Plan B in case the kidnapping wouldn’t work–sending a fake pizza delivery person to Whitmer’s house to shoot her when she opened the door. I’m not too keen on that plan. First, it presumes the governor would order pizza in while on vacation. Second, what if her hubby, a dentist, or one of her five kids opened the door instead of her? Sounds like too many loose ends to me.
When they didn’t have their sights set on Governor Whitmer, the Michigan militia members were plotting other violence. Wouldn’t it be fun to blow up cop cars and storm the state Capitol in Lansing? Perhaps a civil war could even be incited. Thankfully, none of these ideas came to fruition due to the arrest of thirteen men on October 7th.
Even with those arrests, Governor Whitmer still isn’t in the clear. She revealed in an October 11th interview on “Face The Nation” that security threats against her still exist. In the past few weeks, security upgrades have been made to her residence including the construction of a perimeter fence. Another security step to take, if I might suggest, is not to order a pizza delivery.
A federal criminal case has been brought against six men in the U.S District Court for the Western District of Michigan based on a continuing FBI investigation. These charges could result in a life sentence for the defendants if convicted. Another seven suspects were charged with violating Michigan state anti-terrorism laws. The most serious of the state charges are punishable by up to twenty years in prison per count. Guilty verdicts will give the defendants plenty of time to concoct violent plots in their heads as they are on “lockdown” for prolonged periods of time.
Sadly, the Wolverine Watchmen did not consider utilizing lawful means to counteract Whitmer’s reviled lockdown orders. Michigan has a court system which can review the validity of an elected official’s mandate. Ironically, five days before the 13 militia members were arrested a Michigan judge struck down the strict measures Whitmer had imposed. The system can work, just not as quickly as some may want.
No one can say that Governor Whitmer has had a dull 2020. Many were after her at one point or another–lockdown protestors, Joe Biden in search of a VP candidate, and then the Wolverine Watchmen. Personally, I think excitement is highly overrated. I am perfectly happy to maintain my “dull” existence where no one is out to kidnap me and I don’t have to fear opening the door to a pizza delivery man. Michigan can keep its mayhem.
Do you believe our society has become more violent recently? Is it alarming to you that two to three dozen militia groups in one state alone might be a threat to societal order? Is an elected official’s entry of a controversial order a justifiable basis for violence?