Right-wing militias muddy the US election campaign

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The clandestine activities of groups like the one that planned to kidnap the governor of Michigan put Democrats on special alert.

The plan to kidnap the governor of Michigan, the Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, exposed the clandestine activities of “Wolverine Watchman”, one of the far-right militias that have emerged in the United States in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and racial protests. And they cause alarm especially among opponents of President Donald Trump.

The authorities uncovered this Thursday an alleged plot of this armed group, practically unknown until now, aimed at kidnapping and perhaps killing the governor, who has been criticized for her orders to contain the coronavirus, that these sectors consider that they violate their constitutional freedoms.

Those arrested for this plan are six men who are charged with federal charges related to the plot to kidnap Whitmer before the presidential elections on November 3, with the presumed ultimate goal of unleashing a civil war in the country.

There are also seven other suspects in custody, facing state charges under anti-terrorism law de Michigan.

Since April, armed groups have staged protests in front of the State Capitol in Lansing, the Michigan capital, opposing the governor’s measures, and on one occasion several of these militiamen were arrested trying to access the chamber.

According to the information given by the authorities, the group, which had been infiltrated by informants from the federal police (FBI), initially considered taking over the Michigan state Congress, but given the scale of an operation, which they calculated would require more than 200 militiamen, they changed their objective.

His plan became the kidnapping of the Democratic governor to a hideout located in a remote part of Wisconsin and judge her for “treason”, without ruling out ending his life.

One of the detainees, Joseph Morrison, considered the “founder” and “supreme commander” of the militia, used a ramshackle property in a rural area in the town of Munith, about 75 miles east of Detroit, to train members.

The neighbors had been hearing shots and bursts of high-caliber weapons coming from that place, especially on weekends, as if it were carrying out target practice, so they suspected that it was training of a militia.

The presence of these armed far-right groups, which previously maintained a lower profile, has become quite common in the United States as a result of the pandemic, but above all in response to protests against police brutality and racism, that multiplied in the country after the death of the African American George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, in May.

It is now common to see armed militia groups in anti-racist protests, according to them, to protect private property and maintain order in the event of riots or looting.

These groups appear to have been emboldened by US President Donald Trump, who has seen in them a niche of votes and at times it has evaded or even endorsed their activities.

A few months after taking office, Trump refused to condemn the violence of the supremacists who in August 2017 staged a show of force in Charlottesville, dressed as militiamen and with a parade with neo-Nazi torches, and that ended in death of an anti-racist protester.

Trump then blamed both neo-Nazi groups and left-wing protesters for the violence and assured that there were “very good” people among the supremacists.

In his debate last week with his electoral rival, Democrat Joe Biden, Trump also refused to condemn another of these groups, the “Proud Boys”, whom he asked to “step back and remain prepared” before possible race riots.

A day later, social media was filled with messages in which white nationalists adopted that phrase as a slogan and celebrated Trump’s tacit endorsement.


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