Two far-right activists were convicted Tuesday of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, over anti-COVID restrictions she imposed in the northern U.S. state.
A jury deliberated for eight hours before finding Adam Fox and Barry Croft guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and use a weapon of mass destruction – a bomb.
“Today’s verdict confirms that the plot was real and very dangerous,” Andrew Birge, a former federal prosecutor who was assigned by the Justice Department to oversee the trial, said in a statement.
“No elected leader should be placed in the face of what Governor Whitmer endured,” he stressed, before adding, “The Department of Justice will not tolerate violent extremist plots of this nature that seek to undermine our democracy.”
The two men, who face life in prison, were among a group of far-right activists arrested in October 2020.
Two other suspects, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, had been acquitted in April. And two others pleaded guilty, testifying against their accomplices.
In April, jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict for Adam Fox and Barry Croft, who were presented as the leaders of the conspiracy. So they were tried again in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
According to prosecutors, they were part of the Boogaloo movement, which brings together neo-Nazis and right-wing anarchists around the gun culture, and wants to overthrow the government with a civil war.
According to the indictment, they accused the governor of being “a tyrant” because of COVID restrictions, and planned to kidnap her to put her on “trial.”
They reportedly staked out the area around Gretchen Whitmer’s vacation home and took pictures of a bridge they planned to blow up as a distraction during the abduction.
The defense accused the federal agents of framing the defendants by infiltrating their group with informants and setting up the kidnapping plan.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer hailed on Twitter a verdict “that proves that violence and threats have no place in politics, and that those who seek to divide us will be held accountable.”
“But we must also take a hard look at the state of our political world,” she added, lamenting the existence of “threats against the FBI.” The federal police force has been under attack since it raided Donald Trump’s home in Florida.
In 2020, the arrest of these activists had illustrated the growing threat posed by radical right-wing militias, which was then confirmed during the assault on the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021, in which members of groups such as the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys had participated.