Thirteen men and a new secret discovered: the conspiracy to kidnap Michigan governor and militias in the United States

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On October 8, 2020, the press reported the discovery of a conspiracy to invade the Michigan State Capitol, instigate civil war and kidnap Democratic governor Gretchen Esther Whitmer, just before the U.S. presidential election (1). Seven men who belonged to the extremist group known as Wolverine Watchme and intended, through the kidnapping of the governor and other state officials, to lead the state to a "social collapse", seeking to promote a civil war. Whitmer and Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General, linked the plan to Donald Trump's comments and, in particular, his refusal to condemn groups of white supremacists. Trump, shortly after the disclosure, sent several tweets criticizing the governor and Joe Biden for not condemning groups like Antifa, anarchist militants and others who “burn down Democrat run cities” (2). Trump's demonstrations only confirm the influence his words have on far-right groups. But what are the foundations of this attempt against the so-called democracy of the United States?
Before continuing, however, the difference between US and Brazilian militias must be marked to demonstrate the growing importance of this type of organization in the world and the differences between such types . In Brazil, militias are formed mainly by agents or ex-agents of the State acting illegally and whose main objective is economic gain. In other words, they are criminal groups made up of those who belong or have belonged to the Armed Forces or any security force and who come together to extort the population and perform illegal acts aimed mainly at money. In the United States, on the other hand, what they call a 'militia' (militia) are paramilitary groups or organizations that have a clearly political objective. These groups are made up of right-wing people who call themselves patriots and with an anti-government ideology. Of course, during the Trump administration, "anti-government" means against Democratic state governments and any sector of the Federal Government that is not aligned with the president. To our misfortune, the militias in Brazil are approaching, every day, the political objective established by the American militias, an objective responsible for weakening any democratic foundation present in both countries.
Militias in the United States are based on legislation and the country's history.
Legend has it that the Minutemen were rebels from the armed population of Massachusetts and from the people themselves, who suddenly mobilized and attacked, with their strong fighting spirit and well-aimed shots, the English in the struggle for the independence of the colonies that later , would become the United States. Obviously, this legendary account overestimates the Minutemen's value in combat and their spontaneity. In fact, the Minutemen were trained and belonged to the elite units of the militias of the time, but, although well equipped, they were no match for English soldiers (3). Despite this, they are the great inspiration for the formation of the current militias.
From a legal point of view, United States militias are based on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, included in the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment, adopted in 1791, reads:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed (4).


Several interpretations of this amendment claim that it guarantees the possession of weapons and the existence of militias. Being from the end of the 18th century, it is understandable that the amendment expresses these guarantees. However, in the 21st century, it has already lost its raison d'être and thus harms the country's democratic structures, which, by the way, are not as solid as is usually thought.
An intelligence project identified 512 “patriotic” groups in the United States in 2009, of which 127 were militias (5). The existence of these groups is a constant threat to so-called American democracy and aberrations such as the attempted kidnapping of the Michigan governor or the Oklahoma City attack on April 19, 1995, will continue to exist as long as the United States does not act harshly, rethink the Second Amendment and change their stance on weapons. For the moment, however, the most important thing is Biden's victory and Trump's defeat in the next presidential election.


Alexandre Lessa da Silva

Notes

(1) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/08/us/gretchen-whitmer-michigan-militia.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

(2) Ibid.

(3) DECONDE, Alexander. Gun violence in America: the struggle for control. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2001. P.28.

(4) https://billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/bill-of-rights/

(5) Uma lista é encontrada em: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2010/active-patriot-groups-united-states-2009

Ex-professor de diversas universidades públicas e particulares. Lecionou na Universidade Federal Fluminense e na Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.