Michigan residents have called for Barry County sheriff Dar Leaf to resign, after it emerged that he had shared a stage with one of the men arrested in the alleged foiled plot to kidnap governor Gretchen Whitmer.
William Null, a member of the Michigan Liberty Militia group, was arrested alongside 12 others last Friday in relation to the alleged plot to kidnap the governor at her summer home.
Mr Null has been charged with material support for terrorist acts and possessing firearms in commission of a felony, WWMT reported.
Following the suspect’s arrest last week, it was reported that sheriff Leaf had shared a stage with Mr Null at a protest against Ms Whitmer’s stay at home order in May, alongside other members of the militia group.
A protest with at least 160 attendees is now scheduled in Hastings, Michigan, on Tuesday, to call for Mr Leaf to be removed from his post, according to Newsweek.
The protest has been organised by Olivia Bennett, who is running for the position of Barry County commissioner.
She told Michigan Live on Monday: “We are not accusing [Sheriff Leaf] of having known about the kidnapping plot and we are not accusing him of being a part of it at all.”
Ms Bennett added: “Some people in this county have tried to make the connection and have said we should investigate Dar for that, but that is not where I’m at or what I am suggesting at all.
“What I am suggesting is his actions and his words embolden people who would attempt to do such things.”
Mr Leaf, who has allegedly refused to enforce Ms Whitmer’s coronavirus measures, spoke about Mr Null and his brother Michael, who was also arrested in relation to the failed plot, on Friday.
He told Fox17: “I was shocked, did not see this coming with those guys, but still we can’t convict them in the media here, they do have a right to a fair trial.”
When asked if he had any regrets about being on stage with one of the men charged in the alleged plot, he did not express any remorse and went on to question whether the group were actually trying to carry out an “arrest”.
“It’s just a charge,” he said. “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?”
Mr Leaf added: “In fact, these guys are innocent till proven guilty so I’m not even sure if they had any part of it.”
Mr Null is facing 20 years in prison for the alleged plot, and is being held on a $250,000 (£191,312) bond.
State and federal law enforcement officials have claimed that the group planned the alleged kidnapping plot for two months prior to their arrest.
The FBI said the men planned to capture Ms Whitmer before 3 November’s national election and “try” her in Wisconsin.
The group allegedly felt that Ms Whitmer had “uncontrolled power” over coronavirus measures, and they had planned “various acts of violence,” for their plot, according to the Associated Press.
Speaking about their arrest, Detroit US attorney Matthew Schneider told reporters on Friday: “All of us in Michigan can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never, ever amount to violence.
“Violence has been prevented today.”