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May have Ramifications Further On.


On April 8, 2022, the federal prosecutors failed to convict four militia members in a much-heralded plot to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The plot allegedly began in April 2020, as Gov. Whitmer was mandating facial masks and other measures designed to save lives at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. The men involved were all her opponents. They collected weapons and conducted trainings. They even constructed a so-called “kill house” where they were supposed to learn how to execute their opposition. Once the FBI learned of this group, they sent infiltrators and taped meetings, including casual get-togethers.

Six men were arrested in October 2020. Most of them were already members of the Wolverine Watchmen, an offshoot of the Michigan Militia. Two of them, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, pleaded guilty to federal charges and cooperated with the prosecution. The other four—Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft, and Adam Fox—finally went to trial.

The case went to the jury of six men and six women, and they found Harris and Caserta “not guilty.” However, the jury deadlocked on Croft and Fox, and they may be tried again—although this reporter does not think it will happen.

Attorneys for Harris and Caserta pointed out that they did not go to Elk River to conduct surveillance on Governor Whitmer’s vacation home. And all of the defendants made much of the dozen FBI informants involved in this case, essentially claiming the so-called plot was of the FBI’s making. And they were happy to point out when the informant’s many versions of the so-called plot did not agree.

Speculation about how the FBI conducted itself in the investigative stages is overwhelming. Did they arrest the men too soon? Did they have too many informants—remember it was 12–with different versions of the same plot? Did their informants and agents push the case too hard?

Whatever is ultimately thought of this case, it is certainly not one of the prosecution’s better moments. Nevertheless, it will stand against other cases brought against those in the militia movement. And it may get worse than that.

Leonard Zeskind

Author Leonard Zeskind

is founder of IREHR. For almost four decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. [more..]

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