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A local sheriff in Michigan has defended the group of people accused of forming a domestic terrorism plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, who according to MLive once shared a stage with one of the suspects during a protest against COVID-19 shutdowns, told the CNN affiliate WXMI he was “shocked” by the charges, but said he hadn’t “read everything up on it.”
“It’s just a charge, and they say a ‘plot to kidnap’ and you got to remember that. Are they trying to kidnap? Because a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested. So are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnap attempt? Because you can still in Michigan if it’s a felony, make a felony arrest,” Leaf told WXMI. “These guys are innocent till proven guilty so I’m not even sure if they had any part of it.”
The group involved in the alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer had connections to a militia group known as the “Wolverine Watchmen.” The FBI said the group also considered “taking out” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
Six defendants have been federally charged with conspiracy to kidnap, while seven others have been charged at the state level.
Two of the men facing state charges, Michael and William Null, were residents of Leaf’s county.
“The two gentlemen that I know of from my county, were they involved in that? I don’t know,” Leaf told WMXI of the Null brothers. “They’re innocent till proven guilty. And we really, really should be careful, trying to try them in the media.”
Leaf shared a stage with William Null at an anti-shutdown protest in Grand Rapids in May. Leaf was a guest speaker at the event, where he compared COVID-19 shutdowns to being arrested, and said the government was taking away people’s free will.
Members of the community have criticized Leaf’s ties to the Null brothers, and some called for his resignation during a County Commission meeting on Tuesday, according to WOOD-TV.
The Barry County prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt said in a statement to WOOD-TV that Leaf’s recent comments “should in no way be taken to represent the position of this office or the many selfless, hard-working members of the Barry County law enforcement community.”
“There is no logical, legal or ethical basis for statements that defend or condone behavior that threatens the safety of Governor Whitmer, fellow law enforcement, or any other citizen in this country,” she said. “Sheriff Leaf’s statements are his own. They do not and should not tarnish the honor and respect for law enforcement in Barry County and throughout the country.”
Leaf did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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Source:: Businessinsider – Politics