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People gather at Capitol to support Whitmer after kidnapping plot arrests

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — A couple dozen people gathered on the Capitol lawn Thursday in a last minute show of support for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after state and federal law enforcement arrested 13 men who they said had plotted to kidnap the governor. 

Individuals participating in the vigil placed large cut-out letters in the grass saying "BIG GRETCH" and handed out Biden Harris presidential campaign yard signs to attendees. 

A couple dozen people gathered on the Capitol ground Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, hours after 13 people were arrested in relation to an alleged plot to storm the state Capitol and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Noah Arbit, founder and chairman of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus, organized the event with the help of the Democratic Blue Bridge and a quick push on Facebook.

Arbit said the news about Whitmer's attempted kidnapping was "heinous" and "bone chilling."

"This is not how we deal with political disputes in the state of Michigan," Arbit said. "That's really why I'm here, that's why I wanted people to show up here at the state Capitol."

Scott Bell, of Lansing, helped hand out Biden Harris signs Thursday, but it was his elected officials — from the governor to the state lawmakers — who were on his mind.

"This is a show of solidarity to everyone else who showed up on such short notice that we stand together,"  Bell said. "This is not who we are, not who we want to be, and it's definitely not going to be our future."

Jana Nicol, a volunteer on Whitmer's 2018 campaign, was working from home about six blocks from the Capitol when she heard the news. 

"I was just shocked," she said. "Unbelieveable that people would stoop to that level."

As someone who comes from a gun-owning family that uses guns to hunt, Nicol isn't adverse to the idea of gun ownership. 

"But knowing they were coming down throughout the year, armed militia going inside with guns the size of two-year-old toddlers, it was very stressful," she said.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com