U.S. & World News

FBI foils plot to kidnap Michigan governor

WRITTEN BY: GRIFFIN BRAMMER, STAFF WRITER

Photo courtesy of Michigan Municipal League via creativecommons.org

A group of domestic terrorists was arrested Oct. 7 for the alleged attempted kidnapping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The group of thirteen was led by Michigan resident Adam Fox and had repeated meetings in the basement of the Grand Rapids-based vacuum store where Fox was employed.

In a statement from the FBI, it was revealed that the group’s original plan involved blowing up a highway bridge as a distraction while they abducted the governor from her summer home. 

As Fox said in one of the meetings attended by an undercover FBI agent, it was to be a “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the fuckin’ governor. Just grab the bitch.”  From there, the group decided they would take  Whitmer to an unknown location in Wisconsin and hold their version of a “trial” against her.

First-year business major and Michigan native TJ Donally gave his opinion on the whole situation. 

“I mean, of course it’s bad, that someone wants to kidnap the governor, but if I’m being honest it’s kind of funny,” Donally stated. He then clarified, “It’s so bad, you think it’s a joke.”

The group had reportedly prepared for their plan by practicing extensive gun training, performing practice drills, spying on the governor’s vacation home, building explosives and even trying to secure a realtor to give them plans of the surrounding houses. 

Jeremy Blatt, a junior Philosophy, Politics and the Public and political science double major who also hails from Michigan, was struck by the severity of the attempt by the terrorist group.  

“I thought (protests against Whitmer’s policies) was going to be the worst of it, but to find out that there was a group of domestic terrorists, a city over from my hometown, that was plotting to kidnap our governor and attempt to overthrow our government was disheartening and alarming,” he said. 

However, the plan was thwarted when undercover FBI agent Richard J, Trask II intercepted the groups’ online chats and attending some of their meetings in person.  

The motive behind the attempted abduction was a shared belief that Gov. Whitmer was an alleged tyrant, attempting a total government collapse and civil war. Whitmer, a Democrat, had recently passed several restrictions on the state of Michigan in an attempt to quell the spread of COVID-19. These decisions featured heavy lockdowns that had a negative impact on the state’s business and, in turn, riled up many radical conservative and anti-government groups, as is the case for this terrorist group.

Eventually, the FBI gathered enough evidence to arrest Fox and his partners. Fox and five others were charged with federal conspiracy, while the remaining seven were charged with a state crime.

While some may come to criticize this decision — demanding an equal charge be put on all thirteen domestic terrorists — others feel as though this were a fair prosecution. 

Sheriff Dar Leaf of Barry County, Mich.was recently seen with two of the seven men who were charged by the state at a protest against COVID-19 countermeasures implemented by Whitmer herself.

“The two gentlemen that I know of from my county, were they involved in that? I don’t know. They’re innocent till proven guilty,” Leaf stated.  

Donally stands in agreement with this opinion. 

“Who really knows what’s going on with the other guys,” Donally said.  “If those six guys were charged they definitely had intent, so the other guys might not have had crazy intent, so you don’t really know the whole story.”

Platt, however, disagrees. 

“Every single person involved with this plot should be charged federally. These are not men, these are domestic terrorists and the only reason that the media continues to call them a radical group is because of the color of their skin,” he said. “This was not a militia, this group’s sole purpose was to create terror and havoc in Michigan and should be deemed as such. Anything less than federal terrorist charges for each and every person involved is unjust.”

After the arrests, Whitmer has since come on record to commend the law enforcement officers that kept her safe, while criticizing Trump’s recent actions in the presidential debate for being a cause of the attempted kidnapping, as well as overall inciting violence. 

“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,” she explained. 

President Trump responded with a series of tweets, including one in which he reportedly belittled Whitmer for not thanking him for the federal charges.

In the transcript of statements collected by Trask, Fox was adamant about pulling the kidnapping off before the presidential election next month. 

“On several occasions, Fox has expressed his intention and desire to kidnap Governor Whitmer before November 3, 2020, the date of the national election,” Trask wrote.  

With the domestic terrorists being apprehended and the kidnapping attempt failed, Donally and Platt have two different ideas on how this will impact the upcoming election.

Donally doesn’t believe going forward that there will be any major impact on the governor’s plotted kidnapping. 

“There’s not been too much coverage on it anyways,” Donally said, “so I don’t think it’ll have any impact. If it went through, it might’ve, but… they stopped it.”

Meanwhile, Platt seems to agree with Whitmer and says Trump’s recent actions during the debate may allow incidents like these to continue in the future. 

“It saddens me to say this, but white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys look up to Donald Trump. When he cannot come out and condemn this terrorist group the same day their plan to kidnap the Governor was derailed by the FBI and instead uses it to push a political narrative on his Twitter, these groups will never learn that their actions are deplorable and unacceptable,” he said.

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