They Blamed Politics for Their Plot. A Judge Didn't Buy It

Members of 'The Crusaders' militia group get 25+ years each
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2019 1:30 PM CST
3 Men Who Plotted Muslim Massacre Learn Their Fate
These file booking photos provided by the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office in Wichita, Kan., show from left, Patrick Stein, Curtis Allen, and Gavin Wright.   (Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

They blamed America's divisive politics, but a judge dismissed that. "We have extremely divisive elections because our system is to resolve those through elections and not violence," said US District Judge Eric Melgren at an emotional hearing Friday for three men convicted of plotting to blow up a Kansas apartment building filled with Somali Muslims, NBC News reports. Ultimately, Melgren sentenced Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen of Kansas and Gavin Wright of Oklahoma to at least 25 years each for their plan to attack the Garden City complex the day after the 2016 election. "Today's sentence is a significant victory against hate crimes and domestic terrorism," acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a press release, per CNN.

Defense attorneys claimed that politics affected the men; Stein apparently believed former President Obama would declare martial law before letting Donald Trump be president, and all three shared Russian propaganda on Facebook. But Melgren shrugged that off, saying, "Millions of people listen to this stuff—whether it comes from the left or the right." He sentenced Stein, the 49-year-old ringleader, to 30 years in prison; Allen, the 51-year-old author of their group's manifesto, to 25 years; and Wright, 53, who tested their explosives, to 26 years. The hearing also included video of a targeted Somali immigrant who pleaded, "Please don't kill us. Please don't hate us. We can't hurt you." (Meanwhile, three men and a high school student were busted for a similar alleged plot.)

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