'I Don't Know, Boys, We Gotta Do Something'

Details emerge in anti-government plot in Michigan
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2020 11:45 AM CDT
'I Don't Know, Boys, We Gotta Do Something'
Adam Dean Fox is shown in a booking photo. Fox is one of several people charged with plotting to target law enforcement and attack the state Capitol building in Lansing, Mich.   (Kent County Sheriff's Office via AP)

The story behind the jarring arrest on Thursday of several men who allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan's governor may have begun with a plea made by one of the suspects in a Facebook video in June. Adam Fox complained about the judicial system and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID restrictions on gyms and called her a "tyrant b----," according to the FBI affidavit. "I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something,” he said in the video, per the Detroit News. "You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do." Coverage:

  • The plot: In all, 13 men were charged in what the feds say was part of a broader attempt to foment a civil war, reports the Detroit Free Press. Among other things, they discussed storming the state Capitol and staked out Whitmer's vacation home as part of a plan to abduct her and try her for treason, says the FBI. The suspects also allegedly discussed going after police officers. Six face federal kidnapping charges related to the Whitmer kidnapping plot, per the Department of Justice. The other seven, who belong to the Wolverine Watchmen militia group, face state charges. The two groups of men allegedly trained together.
  • Precautions: Authorities moved Whitmer and her family to different locations as they tracked the plot, the state's attorney general said Friday, per the AP.

  • Online trail: The suspects left a long trail of social media posts detailing their anger at the government, and the Washington Post sees a parallel in that with other crimes linked to political extremism. "Social media companies have been allowing these communities to build and grow, ignoring the mounting evidence that memes, posts, and images encouraging violence can and do translate into actual violence," says a former CIA analyst who now works for the Alethea Group, which tracks online threats. What's more, "the Facebook algorithm actively recommended other militia-related groups and pages to join, allowing each page and group to expand their reach."
  • The anger: At the New York Times, David Leonhardt writes that the case is further evidence that more people think violence is the solution to the nation's political divisions. He notes that extremism is evident on both sides of the political spectrum, though it appears to be more prevalent on the right. "Of the 42 killings by political extremists last year, right-wing extremists committed 38, according to the Anti-Defamation League."
  • Familiar locale: The Free Press reports that Michigan has been a "hotbed" for such militia groups for years. Somewhere between two and three dozen armed groups in the state are seen as a potential threat, according to the story.
  • Boogaloo: Several of the suspects have ties to the anti-government boogaloo movement, as well as to other fringe groups, reports NBC News. The network did a deep dive into their social media posts.
  • Politics: Whitmer called out the rhetoric of President Trump, who once tweeted "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" in response to her COVID restrictions. On Thursday night, the president fired back. "Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities," he tweeted. "I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence."
(More Gretchen Whitmer stories.)

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