Plot puts focus on governors' safety amid threats, protests

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FILE - In this April 15, 2020 file photo, protesters carry rifles near the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, Mich. A plot to kidnap Michigans governor has put a focus on the security of governors who have faced protests and threats over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The threats have come from people who oppose business closures and restrictions on social gatherings. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File)

A plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor has put a focus on the security of governors who have faced protests and threats over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

While the alleged plot against Gretchen Whitmer is the most specific and highest-profile to come to light, it’s far from the first threat against state officials, particularly Democrats who imposed business closures and restrictions on social gatherings.

In New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said this week that news of the arrest of 13 men accused of planning the overthrow of Michigan’s government rattled members of her family.

“I started to get calls from both my daughters who were terrified and who were often included in some of the negative messaging,” Lujan Grisham said this week. “Early on in this pandemic. one of the threats that we got was ‘I hope your grandchildren get COVID.’ ”

In August, a man pleaded guilty to making threats against the Democratic governor on social media and was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

During the pandemic, the state Capitol that houses her office has been closed to the public. But its grounds have been the site of protests, including some who carried weapons and are militia members.

Even with the glass doors locked, State Police have at times deployed additional security measures, such as putting up opaque screens inside the doors to hide their exact location from protesters.

Across the country, armed protesters have rallied this year against coronavirus-related shutdowns. In Michigan, some protesters with guns were allowed inside the statehouse in April after passing temperature screenings. Some lawmakers wore bulletproof vests.