Michigan’s attorney general talks Trump, far-right violence, the role of Facebook, and the alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer


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Weeks before the 2020 election, and months after President Donald Trump urged supporters to “liberate Michigan,” state Attorney General Dana Nessel and US prosecutors unveiled charges against members of a paramilitary group who allegedly plotted to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and try her for “treason.”

In an interview with Business Insider on Thursday, Nessel spoke about the charges, the rise in militia activity across Michigan and the country, and who or what is to blame for the increasing threat posed by far-right radicalization.

Sometimes these militia groups are dismissed as a bunch of losers playing soldier — drunk guys at a bar boasting about what they could do, but not actually what they’re going to be able to do. Obviously, these are very serious charges, and so I’m guessing that you have a different take.

I think that originally I had the same mindset, frankly: These are just some guys that like to go out and show off their AR-15s, and trash government officials that they don’t like. But this is much scarier than that, I can say now, after obviously several months of this lengthy investigation, and now prosecution. These are individuals who seemingly are very committed to the cause, and who, from just what seemed to be a hostile and angry rhetoric, to planning —to full out planning, and with the intent to execute a number of different plans: to be disruptive to government; to kill law enforcement officials; to potentially blow up the Capitol building; and, of course, to kidnap, put on trial, and then execute the governor. So once you’ve moved from just a bunch of guys blowing off steam, to training exercises across multiple jurisdictions, and really heavily investing time, energy, effort in these types of activities, now we have to take it very seriously. And we have taken it very seriously.

This plot was discovered, in part, from boasting online. Did it escalate from boasting on Facebook to actual training, or were these pretty much radicalized people by the time they were on Facebook?

I mean, it’s a combination of those things. I think that some of these protests actually served as recruiting tools for additional members. So you had people who were already invested, and then they would go to these events, go online, become radicalized. I would call it the perfect storm, right?

You have these individuals who already might be disillusioned with the government. You have COVID, which of course causes all kinds of other issues and disruptions in people’s lives. Then you have the Black Lives Matter protest, which causes further civil unrest. And you have leaders in office, at the federal level and at the state level, that I think, egg these folks on. I mean, they legitimize them. 

I think it’s going to be pretty interesting as the days go on. Firstly, the very famous picture now, that my state Senator Dayna Polehanki actually took on the floor of the Senate, where you look up and there are these armed gunmen …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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