LANSING – Many law enforcement agencies -- local and federal -- are investigating the group behind the terrorism plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
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“Federal and state law enforcement are committed to working together to make sure violent extremists never succeed with their plans, particularly when they target our duly elected leaders," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge Thursday.
While they’re affiliate with the Michigan Militia, the Wolverine Watchmen is its own group with its own goals.
For years, we’ve heard about the Michigan Militia and its ties to domestic terrorism and secret training drills in northern Michigan.
The Wolverine Watchmen formed very recently. According to the Attorney General’s Office, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico were founding members of the group that Assistant AG Gregory Townsend described as “committed to violence.”
The group was formed by citizens angered about Whitmer’s orders during the pandemic. They like to recruit in person and don’t have a large presence online, which might be connected to Facebook, Discord and other social media platforms’ decision to remove accounts associated with the boogaloo movement earlier this year.
NBC News found that, “Several of the men charged (with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer) have histories of anti-government organizing, as well as interest in countering what they saw as an ‘uprising’ against President Donald Trump, according to their online profiles and comments.”
Federal officials also said the seven men tied to the Wolverine Watchmen militia group -- Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison -- support the “boogaloo” movement.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, boogaloo is a term “used by extremists to signify a coming civil war and/or collapse of society.”
The Department of Homeland Security has called the boogaloo movement as being comprised of “simply violent extremists."
The boogaloo movement is a loosely organized far-right extremist movement with members advocating for a second Civil War. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the current boogaloo movement was first noticed by extremism researchers in 2019. The boogaloo title in use to a second American Civil War is a reference to the 1984 movie “Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.”
According to NBC News, boogaloo extremists have used social media to share instructions for explosives and 3D-printed firearms, distribute illegal firearm modifications and strategize a potential uprising.