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The SPLC Expresses Disappointment in Acquittal and Mistrial Verdicts in Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot

The Southern Poverty Law Center Expresses Deep Disappointment in the Acquittal and Mistrial Verdicts of Antigovernment Extremists in Governor Gretchen Whitmer Kidnapping Plot

Two of the four defendants found not guilty of kidnapping conspiracy; jury deadlocked on the other two resulting in a mistrial

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, a jury acquitted Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, two of the four hard-right militia extremists charged in the conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. The jury was deadlocked on the other two alleged ringleaders, Adam Fox and Barry Croft, resulting in a mistrial.

The federal jury heard weeks of testimony in the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Mich. Two of the original six men who were charged had pled guilty before trial. The men were affiliated with, and members of, antigovernment militia groups including the “Wolverine Watchmen” and “Three Percenter movement.”

The following is a statement from Susan Corke, Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.   

“It is incredibly disappointing that justice was not served today. It is essential that when antigovernment militia groups attempt to upend our democratic process through violent means that they be held accountable for their acts.

“We applaud the U.S. Justice Department on their effort in this crucial case. Political violence is never acceptable. Public officials must be able to serve without fear and every citizen deserves to be able to participate in our democracy, and civic discourse, without the threat of intimidation or unnecessary barriers. Our government, community institutions and elected officials – no matter their political affiliation – must do more to prevent the mainstreaming of hate, political intimidation, and violent extremism.

“Our hearts are with Governor Whitmer and the Michigan community impacted by the intimidating planning and actions of these antigovernment militia activists. Actions of this kind are a direct attack on our democracy and are an assault against our basic rights for everyone to fully participate in public matters without fear of violence. This decision is a step backwards and it sends an incredibly alarming message that has the potential to reverberate throughout the U.S.”



Susan Corke