The FBI said on Thursday that it arrested 13 men as part of a plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the state government, The Detroit News reports.
The six main conspirators were angry over Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions, which shuttered gyms and nonessential businesses in the state, according to the FBI. The men called her a “tyrant” and sought to overthrow several state governments to create a “self-sufficient society.”
The men met beginning in June and twice surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home.
Seven other men, part of the Wolverine Watchmen militia, were accused of targeting police, threatening to “instigate civil war” and helping the other six plan the kidnapping.
"Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," an FBI agent wrote in the criminal complaint. "The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message."
FBI tracked the suspects:
The FBI used confidential sources, undercover agents, and secret recordings to track the men.
Members met at gun rallies and in remote areas for firearms drills and training.
In June, one of the men posted a Facebook video complaining that gyms were shuttered due to the coronavirus restrictions.
“Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as ‘this tyrant b----,’ and stated, ‘I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something,” the complaint said. “You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.”
He and other suspects later shot video and took photos of Whitmer’s home.
“The lockdown has been a lightning rod for anti-government extremists in this country, and Gov. Whitmer has been on the forefront of their targeting,” Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, told The Detroit News.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Whitmer and called to “liberate Michigan” in April.
Whitmer links Trump to plot:
Whitmer criticized Trump for refusing to condemn white supremacists and hate groups after the news broke.
"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," she said.
The White House responded by accusing Whitmer of “sowing division” with her remarks.
Trump attacked Whitmer for not saying thank you to him for the FBI foiling the plot and called on her to “open up your state.”