Who are Wolverine Watchmen? Here are 13 people charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Six people were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap and seven others, associated with the militia group 'Wolverine Watchmen', were charged by the state
In connection to the alleged domestic plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, 13 people were charged on October 8, federal and state officials announced.
As per a CNN report, the alleged ploy included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects "believe are violating the US Constitution", including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel informed that six people were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap, and seven other people, associated with the militia group ‘Wolverine Watchmen’, were charged by the state. At a press conference, Nessel said, "The individuals in (state) custody are suspected to have attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan."
As per the report, Whitmer has been the target of extreme hatred from far-right groups a couple of times over her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview on CNN's ‘Erin Burnett OutFront’ on October 8 night, Whitmer thanked the law enforcement for making the arrests. "This is unlike anything we have seen before. The brave men and women of these two police organizations put their lives on the line to keep me and my family safe. I'm incredibly grateful and humbled by the work they do," she said.
In televised remarks on October 8 afternoon, Whitmer said, "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. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight."
In response, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, "President Trump has continually condemned White supremacists and all forms of hate. Governor Whitmer is sowing division by making these outlandish allegations. America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot."
The six people charged by the federal government are Michigan residents Adam Fox, 37; Ty Garbin, 24; Kaleb Franks, 26; Daniel Harris, 23; Brandon Caserta, 32; and Delaware resident Barry Croft, 44. The seven people charged by the state are Paul Bellar, 21; Shawn Fix, 38; Eric Molitor, 36; Michael Null, 38; William Null, 38; Pete Musico, 42; and Joseph Morrison, 42. They face a variety of firearm and terror charges.
According to a Daily Beast report, in an October 8 afternoon arraignment, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Gregory Townsend said the defendants Morrison and Musico were the alleged “founding members” of the Wolverine Watchmen, which he described as a group allegedly “committed to violence” against the government and politicians.
Morrison allegedly used his property in Munith, Michigan, for militia training, according to Townsend. As per Townsend, members of the militia had participated in activities that were allegedly against the federal defendants, including plotting to bomb bridges and surveilling Whitmer's home.
A number of neighbors of the pair spoke to The Daily Beast under the condition of anonymity, due to the fear of retribution from the militia. They alleged that they heard shooting noises on the property. The residents of the house were described as "disrespectful" and the neighbors said large groups would regularly gather on weekends and alleged that "bullets would be flying off their property in all directions". The neighbors said they suspected the people were a part of a militia due to the number of visitors who would show up on weekends, and by the number of high caliber rounds that they allegedly fired off, describing the household as "a nuisance". "There are multiple members of the Wolverine Watchmen," Townsend said. "Mr Morrison was considered the commander."
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