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Whitmer plot underlines growing abuse of women officials | #socialmedia | #hacking | #aihp

Angry over COVID-19 restrictions such as the closing of gyms, people from several states met in Ohio in June 2020 to plot ways to overthrow government “tyrants,” prosecutors say. Within a week, they chose Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as a target.

The plan, as outlined in a federal court indictment, was to kidnap Whitmer at her family’s northern Michigan vacation home and take her to Wisconsin for a “trial.” Over several months, they held training exercises and conducted surveillance on Whitmer’s home in preparation for what a group leader called “a snatch and grab.”

“Just grab the b—-,” Adam Fox was recorded telling a confidential informant working with the FBI, prosecutors say. “Because at that point, we do that, dude – it’s over.”

Though it was interrupted by authorities, the plot – for which four men will face trial in a Michigan courtroom beginning Tuesday – represented an increasing level of anger and violence in U.S. politics. That violence disproportionately targets female elected officials, and particularly women of color.

While criticism of public officials is healthy and expected in a democracy, researchers say women are dramatically more likely than their male counterparts to face threats and violence. As more women are elected, the hostility grows, ranging from death threats to armed people gathered outside homes, or attacks on social media that go beyond policy positions to include gendered or racial slurs and insults about intelligence or appearance.

That could have longer-term effects by pushing women to leave public office or deterring them from running, potentially reversing the progress women have made in diversifying who represents the country at City Hall, on school boards and in statehouses and other offices.

Whitmer appears to have been among the women lawmakers targeted in part due to gender. The men who prosecutors say participated in the plot came from different states, and she was not the only U.S. governor to impose pandemic-related restrictions.

In transcripts of recorded conversations, hours of which prosecutors are expected to present at trial, the use of gendered slurs and men discussing things like “taking” Whitmer indicate their rage goes beyond her policies, said Rutgers University Professor Mona Lena Krook, who authored a 2020 book on global violence against women in politics.

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