Whitmer chief of staff calls kidnapping verdict ‘the normalization of political violence’

'Our differences must be settled at the ballot box, not through violence,' Lt. Gov. Gilchrist said

Apr 8, 2022 at 3:51 pm
click to enlarge Governor Gretchen Whitmer. - State of Michigan
State of Michigan
Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The high-profile criminal trial of four men charged with plotting to kidnap and murder Governor Gretchen Whitmer resulted in a jury failing to convict anyone on Friday.

Daniel Harris, Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., and Brandon Caserta were all charged with conspiracy, while all but Caserta were charged with knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property.

Croft and Harris were also charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device, and Harris was charged with possession of a semi-automatic assault rifle that wasn't registered to him.

The jury found Harris and Caserta not guilty on all charges, and were unable to reach a verdict in the charges against Fox and Croft. Robert Jonker, chief judge of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, declared a mistrial for the charges against Fox and Croft, though they can be tried again.

Whitmer chief of staff JoAnne Huls issued a statement, saying that the outcome only serves to normalize political violence.

“Today, Michiganders and Americans — especially our children — are living through the normalization of political violence," Huls said. "The plot to kidnap and kill a governor may seem like an anomaly. But we must be honest about what it really is: the result of violent, divisive rhetoric that is all too common across our country. There must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes. Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened."

Huls added, "The governor remains focused on her work on behalf of Michigan and all Michiganders. That includes addressing violence and threats to our democracy. We appreciate the prosecutors and law enforcement officers for their work on this case."

"Today's outcome is disappointing," Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II said in a statement. "But it cannot and will not prevent us from standing tall for Michigan. When we took our oaths of office, we committed to serving Michiganders, and while violent extremists try to scare us and prevent us from doing our jobs, we will keep that commitment. We will keep working hard and living up to the oath we took."

He added, "Our differences must be settled at the ballot box, not through violence. We need to be honest and clear about what causes violence by extremists and do all we can to address the root cause of it. Elected officials, parents, teachers, faith leaders, all of us have a duty to stand up to these hateful actions and teach our kids that there is a better way."

After hearing his verdict, Caserta reportedly told supporters, "Best birthday gift ever," according to The Detroit News.

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