Even after the FBI disrupted an alleged terrorist plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the president keeps fanning the flames of violence.
One hallmark of the Trump era is that incidents of terrorism are not followed by the traditional calls for national unity but often deepen the partisan divide. On Thursday, federal and state officials announced the arrest of 13 men in Michigan associated with a group called the Wolverine Watchmen on assorted charges of terrorism, conspiracy, and unlawful weapons possession. The most lurid of the accusations was that at least six of the men were involved in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The New York Times reported, “The men spied on Ms. Whitmer’s vacation home in August and September, even looking under a highway bridge for places they could place and detonate a bomb to distract the authorities, the F.B.I. said.
They indicated that they wanted to take Ms. Whitmer hostage before the election in November, and one man said they should take her to a ‘secure location’ in Wisconsin for a ‘trial,’ Richard J. Trask II, an F.B.I. special agent, said in the criminal complaint.”
Part of the motivation for the alleged plot seems to be anger at Whitmer for locking down the state as a response to the pandemic. Evidence from social media indicates that members of the group have taken inspiration from Donald Trump’s presidency, including the support he’s given to anti-lockdown protesters.
On April 16, approximately 3,000 protesters, many of them armed, gathered in the state capital to protest against Whitmer. The following day, Trump tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” There were further protests at the capital, with at least two of the arrested men participating in an armed protest on April 30.