Of the 14 men facing federal and state charges in the case, the Post found eight of them—three facing federal charges, and five facing state charges—who participated in at least seven of the anti-Whitmer protests. The leader of the plot, 37-year-old Alex Fox, was among six of the men who participated in the first of the protests on April 30 in Lansing, when a large crowd of armed militiamen successfully shut down deliberations in the state House by trying to invade its chambers.
In a video recorded by MLive, Fox can be seen standing near the front of the crowd, wearing a Hawaiian shirt—signifying participation in the civil-war-seeking “Boogaloo” movement—while facing Michigan state troopers and Capitol security guards. Fox can be seen chanting: “Let us in!”
At the rally beforehand, leading Republicans had whipped up the crowd with extremist rhetoric. “We are in a war, right now. We are in a war for the hearts, the soul, the traditions and the freedom of our state and our country … it is up to us to end the shutdown,” said then-congressional candidate Mike Detmer (who later finished second in his race), adding that opposition to the COVID-19 measures needed to continue for “tyranny to go right back down that dark hole from whence it came.”
Four of the men, including Fox, participated in the rain-drenched “Judgement Day” protest on May 14 that had been preceded by a deluge of violent online rhetoric calling for Whitmer’s death. The rally attracted only a handful of participants—who were unable to enter the Capitol because it was a Saturday, when the building normally is closed—but among them was a man dangling a doll, serving as an effigy of Whitmer, from a noose.
Fox was also at the May 18 event in Grand Rapids called “Sheriffs Speak Out” at which several Republicans, include House Speaker Mike Shirkey and Barry County sheriff Dar Leaf, spoke. Militia plotters William and Michael Null also were there, acting as onstage security.
Republicans have refused to accept any hint of responsibility for their complicity in the extremist violence emerging from the reality-deprived events they have created in response to Democratic attempts to manage the pandemic and other efforts at governance, including common-sense gun control in Virginia—particularly since the source of much of the hysteria is Donald Trump himself.
Yet as the Post investigation reveals, the line between far-right extremists and supposedly mainstream Republicans has all but vanished during 2020, when events organized and encouraged by the latter have simply become recruitment and organizing grounds for the former.
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