According to details from a shocking new affidavit, the FBI uncovered a group planning “violent action against multiple state governments,” including a detailed plot to capture or kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The domestic terror group organized across Facebook groups, real-life events and at least two encrypted chat apps that the FBI did not name.
Whitmer, a Democrat, became a major target of pervasive anti-lockdown sentiment on the political right earlier this year when states imposed restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. According to the affidavit, at a June in-person meeting, members of the group “talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor.”
Facebook says it played a “proactive” role in the FBI investigation, first reaching out to law enforcement six months ago. The FBI said it became aware of the activity through social media and also relied on an informant to collect information from within the group.
“We remove content, disable accounts and immediately report to law enforcement when there is a credible threat of imminent harm to people or public safety,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We proactively reached out and cooperated with the FBI early in this ongoing investigation.”
The group sought to grow its numbers, contacting a Michigan-based militia group known as the Wolverine Watchmen that shared overlapping interests. Facebook removed the Wolverine Watchmen group from its platform in June when it purged a number of groups connected to the anti-government boogaloo movement.
“Today we are designating a violent US-based anti-government network as a dangerous organization and banning it from our platform,” Facebook wrote at the time, drawing a distinction between violent boogaloo groups and the “loosely-affiliated” boogaloo movement.
TechCrunch asked Facebook if the individuals connected with the Michigan militia through Facebook groups but the company did not provide an answer to that