Expert: Kidnap plot mirrors anti-gov sentiment across US

Politics

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as state officials have charged 13 people in an alleged domestic terror plot to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The State Attorney General warned other governors and political leaders nationwide that they should be aware of the situation for their own safety.

KOIN 6 News spoke to a local expert who studies hate groups for his take on this latest threat to government officials.

“Michigan just gave us one more data point to say, ‘Hey, these people are out there and threatening violence,” said Randy Blazak, a sociologist specializing in extremism and chair of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes. He has been following the case of the 13 arrested in Michigan after they were accused of threatening to kidnap and kill the governor there.

“I mean, it wasn’t just that they were going to kidnap her, they were going to try and execute her and try to overthrow the government of Michigan,” said Blazak.

In a photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. The governor delivered remarks addressing Michiganders after the Michigan Attorney General, Michigan State Police, U.S. Department of Justice, and FBI announced state and federal charges against 13 members of two militia groups who were preparing to kidnap and possibly kill the governor. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)

According to an FBI affidavit, the alleged conspirators met in a room under a trap door, spent the summer training with firearms and explosives, and tried to recruit 200 men to storm the state capitol building and take hostages, including Governor Whitmer. Blazak said the anti-government sentiment reported there is being mirrored all over the country.

“It’s not surprising that a woman in charge would trigger these guys,” said Blazak. “They see that as the ultimate degradation of their male position–that a woman is telling them to wear a mask.”

Some of the men accused in the alleged kidnapping plot apparently met or networked at an anti-lockdown rally.

“It’s really the intersection of a couple of things that are happening. The fact that there are women in charge of these states, which really sort of threatens these men, who see their masculine way of living, including working at the factory, of going away. There is also the clamp-down because of COVID– surrender some of these personal liberties and some of their First Amendment rights to keep us all safe,” said Blazak.

He said what’s happening in Michigan mirrors anti-government sentiment that is happening all over the country. In light of the allegations, KOIN 6 News reached out to Governor Kate Brown to see if she was enhancing her safety procedures in light of the reports. Her Deputy Communications Director emailed stating, “Our office doesn’t comment on security procedures,” and referred us to the Oregon State Police.

OSP released a short statement saying, “OSP does not discuss the Governor’s security. Although I can assure you that the OSP Dignitary Protection Unit provides the Governor with the finest protection. This includes the vetting, and investigation if needed, of all threats against the Governor.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

Blazak said, based on past events, leaders nationally should not ignore any incoming threats.

“In O.K. City, it was 168 people who were killed, but 19 were children in a day care facility,” said Blazak. “We could see serious bloodshed if these threats aren’t taken seriously.”

KOIN 6 News also reached out to Governor Jay Inslee’s office for comment on his security measures, but has not heard back yet as of the original publishing of this article.

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