The FBI said Thursday it thwarted what it described as a plot by six members of a Michigan “militia” to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit filed Thursday morning. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”
According to the affidavit the conspirators twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer’s vacation home and discussed kidnapping her to a remote location in Wisconsin to stand “trial” for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election. The FBI quoted one of the individuals involved as saying that Whitmer “has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now. All good things must come to an end.”
The affidavit was filed hours after a team of FBI agents on Wednesday raided a Hartland Township home. Officials are expected to make additional details available during a Thursday afternoon news conference.
This is not the first time Whitmer has been threatened. In April Detroit police arrested 32-year-old Robert Tesh for making a credible threat via a social media message to an acquaintance to kill the governor. Tesh was arraigned on a felony terrorism charge and faces up to 20 years in prison.
A man accused of making credible death threats against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel has been charged on a terrorism count, the Wayne County prosecutor’s office said Friday.
In May, the Detroit Metro Times reported that “dozens of angry Michiganders, fueled by conspiracy theories and disinformation about the coronavirus, are promoting violence and mobilizing armed rallies against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Facebook, in violation of the social media company’s policies.
The publication said it “gained access to four private Facebook groups that can only be seen by approved members. The pages, which have a combined 400,000 members, are filled with paranoid, sexist, and grammar-challenged rants, with members encouraging violence and flouting the governor’s social-distancing orders.” Facebook deleted a number of accounts and messages in connection with the threats.
In recent weeks, the state-owned Michigan governor’s residence received security upgrades, including the construction of a new perimeter fence.