Militia plot to kidnap Michigan Governor and overthrow government 'thwarted'

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Damn those Antifa...

The FBI says it thwarted what it described as a plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and federal prosecutors are expected to discuss the alleged conspiracy later Thursday.

The alleged plot involved reaching out to members of a Michigan militia, according to a federal affidavit filed Thursday.

The court filing also alleges the conspirators twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer's vacation home and discussed kidnapping her to a remote location in Wisconsin to stand "trial" for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election.
 

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Dakota Tebaldi

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But then they would be terrorists, not members of a militia.
Reading the replies to some of the Twitter posts about this news story, there's a whole lot of people who are saying things like "they're not militia, they are terrorists/domestic terrorists, call them the right thing", and I can't figure out whether these people are liberals or conservatives. "Call them domestic terrorists" is a very common liberal response to news articles about mass shooters and things; but on the other hand, militias are a very conservative hobby, and I can just as easily see militia fans not wanting the term "militia" publicly associated with terrorism.

Although if you ask me, I think news articles should be using both. Every American self-labeled "militia" I've ever seen or read about has not been shy about admitting that they believe their primary mission is to overthrow the government someday because "Constipatution!"
 

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Reading the replies to some of the Twitter posts about this news story, there's a whole lot of people who are saying things like "they're not militia, they are terrorists/domestic terrorists, call them the right thing", and I can't figure out whether these people are liberals or conservatives. "Call them domestic terrorists" is a very common liberal response to news articles about mass shooters and things; but on the other hand, militias are a very conservative hobby, and I can just as easily see militia fans not wanting the term "militia" publicly associated with terrorism.

Although if you ask me, I think news articles should be using both. Every American self-labeled "militia" I've ever seen or read about has not been shy about admitting that they believe their primary mission is to overthrow the government someday because "Constipatution!"
I think there's a distinction between militias and terrorist groups, though particular militias may be terrorist organisations. There certainly is one in English law, and I think it's a useful distinction.

Here, organising private militias is illegal under the Public Order Act 1937, originally introduced to deal with Oswald Moseley's Blackshirts:

If the members or adherents of any association of persons, whether incorporated or not, are—
(a)organised or trained or equipped for the purpose of enabling them to be employed in usurping the functions of the police or of the armed forces of the Crown; or
(b)organised and trained or organised and equipped either for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force in promoting any political object, or in such manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they are organised and either trained or equipped for that purpose;
then any person who takes part in the control or management of the association, or in so organising or training as aforesaid any members or adherents thereof, shall be guilty of an offence under this section:
That's completely separate from the Home Secretary's power to ban terrorist organisations under the Terrorism Act 2000 on the grounds that they're... well, terrorist organisations -- that is, the group
• commits or participates in acts of terrorism;​
• prepares for terrorism;​
• promotes or encourages terrorism (including the unlawful glorification of terrorism);​
or​
• is otherwise concerned in terrorism.​

(see explanatory document here).

So, yes, I'd say that a militia group is not necessarily a terrorist group -- the point about a militia isn't that it necessarily commits or promotes acts of terrorism but that it could be used to usurp the state's legal monopoly on the use of violence.

Certainly the existence of a militia is a form of passive intimidation -- it doesn't have to threaten violence, since the simple fact of its existence is in itself a threat -- but that, on its own, doesn't come anywhere near the criteria for a successful terrorism prosecution, at least not in the UK, and our constitutional right to freedom of assembly is considerably more qualified (rightly so, to my mind) than is yours.
 

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So, yes, I'd say that a militia group is not necessarily a terrorist group -- the point about a militia isn't that it necessarily commits or promotes acts of terrorism but that it could be used to usurp the state's legal monopoly on the use of violence.

Certainly the existence of a militia is a form of passive intimidation -- it doesn't have to threaten violence, since the simple fact of its existence is in itself a threat -- but that, on its own, doesn't come anywhere near the criteria for a successful terrorism prosecution, at least not in the UK, and our constitutional right to freedom of assembly is considerably more qualified (rightly so, to my mind) than is yours.
I dunno, I just can't really agree with the distinction you make. Groups that call themselves militias here don't merely seek to usurp the state's legal monopoly on the use of violence. I mean, we're not talking about people who want to deputize themselves to go and say hunt down a serial killer because they don't believe the police are doing a good enough job. The violence that American "militias" threaten whether implicitly or explicitly, is invariably directed at the state itself. They believe their job is to capture and kill elected officials that they consider to have strayed too far from their specific ideal of what the government should look and act like. It's politically-motivated violence; I don't see how it could NOT be terrorism.
 

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They believe their job is to capture and kill elected officials that they consider to have strayed too far from their specific ideal of what the government should look and act like. It's politically-motivated violence; I don't see how it could NOT be terrorism.
And it's the capturing and killing elected officials part that makes them a militia group that has turned into a terrorist group. They became terrorists at the point they formed the plan to kidnap and kill Governor Whitmer, not before.

I'm not supporting militias -- on the contrary, I'm glad they've been illegal here for the last 80 or so years, but in order to catch all militias, even though they may not yet have turned to terrorist activities, we have to have laws that define a militia in terms of how it's organised and trained, not the goals or methods it actually pursues.

ETA

 
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Jolene Benoir

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The KKK cannot openly commit violence these days along with the stigma so they gather themselves together and call themselves a militia. If these folks were alive when the KKK was more active they would have been members.
 

Jolene Benoir

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MY Justice Dept....Um, it was the FBI that thwarted this plot. He, nor HIS Justice Dept likely had a damn thing to do with it. Furthermore, the FBI is an agency in which he is attempting to also take full control.
 

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I dunno, I just can't really agree with the distinction you make. Groups that call themselves militias here don't merely seek to usurp the state's legal monopoly on the use of violence. I mean, we're not talking about people who want to deputize themselves to go and say hunt down a serial killer because they don't believe the police are doing a good enough job. The violence that American "militias" threaten whether implicitly or explicitly, is invariably directed at the state itself. They believe their job is to capture and kill elected officials that they consider to have strayed too far from their specific ideal of what the government should look and act like. It's politically-motivated violence; I don't see how it could NOT be terrorism.
I'd call them "terrorist militias". Terrorist because their aim is political through fear and violent acts, and militia to describe their organization and equipment. We have other descriptive categories like "suicide bomber" or "hijacker" for people using other methods.