Wisconsin identified as a potential hotspot for militia activity on or around Election Day

Posted at 6:24 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 19:24:52-04

MILWAUKEE — A new report warns Wisconsin is one of the states that could see militia activity on Election Day. This comes as the state saw militia members protesting in Kenosha following shooting of Jacob Blake. Extremists were also arrested in Wisconsin after the FBI they say they uncovered a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor.

Kyle Rittenhouse
FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, Kyle Rittenhouse carries a weapon as he walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., during a night of unrest following the weekend police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse's defense team has called him a member of a militia. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and seriously wounding a third.

Now, the research group Armed Conflict Location and Event Data warns Wisconsin’s upcoming election could be the next focus of militia members. It says Wisconsin is one of 5 states identified for being at high risk for militia activity around the election.

“We track the militias around the world,” said Roudabeh Kishi, of the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project.

ACLED along with the research group MilitiaWatch say factors like Black Lives Matter protests, anti-coronavirus protests and militia recruitment activity all factor in why Wisconsin is considered a hotspot.

“There are certain things they might want to do to intimidate or suppress voters in the lead up to the election,” said Kishi.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have also identified extremist groups as a potential threat to the election. But Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul says there has been no specific threat made related to Election Day in the state.

“We are taking steps and working with other agencies if there is an issue that arises,” said Kaul.

The editor of MilitiaWatch Hampton Stall says some militia groups have already indicated they’ll be at the polls observing on Election Day.

“I think they are planning instead to show up at the polls with a GoPro strapped to their chest and a concealed weapon and scoping out the polling location. Sort of hyper-vigilant is the way they are framing it,” said Stall.

The attorney general warns that is a fine line and could be considered voter intimidation.

“If anyone threatens someone or using force to prevent someone from voting that is a felony,” said Kaul. “If anyone engages in that conduct they should be prepared to be investigated and spend time behind bars.”

ACLED and the Attorney General says no one should be afraid to vote or show up on Election Day. If you feel threatened at a poll, you should report that to an election workers or call the police.

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