Extremist Michigan Sheriff Shared Stage With Militia Member Charged In Kidnapping Plot

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William Null, charged in kidnapping plot of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, on stage with Michigan Sheriff Dar Leaf

William Null, 38, was shown at a May anti-lockdown rally in Michigan sharing the stage with Barry County, Michigan, sheriff Dar Leaf, highlighting the cozy relationship between extremist law enforcement officers and violent far right paramilitary groups. The sheriff was unleashing a tirade against Governor Whitmer, and said he would not enforce mandates and lockdowns handed down by the governor.

In an interview with local media on Thursday, the sheriff said he had no regrets about sharing the stage with recently arrested militiamen.

He added that he knew Null — as well as his identical twin, Michael, who was also arrested in the terror plot — and called the brothers “nice” and “respectful.” He also appeared to defend the Nulls’ motive for the alleged kidnapping plot, arguing that there’s a legal argument to be made that Whitmer should be arrested for imposing coronavirus restrictions. 

Leaf did not address his membership in the right-wing extremist “constitutional sheriffs” movement — a close ally of America’s armed militias — that has gained a concerning momentum during the era of President Donald Trump. 

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association is the flagship organization of the movement of county sheriffs who believe they are the ultimate agency of law enforcement over state and federal governments.

Constitutional sheriffs are part of the broader antigovernment “patriot” movement in the U.S., which is animated by a multitude of conspiracy theories about immigrants, Muslims, Jews, gun control measures, and a coming “New World Order.”

Leaf was among those who attended the 2019 CSPOA Conference, along with Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers, a national militia organization.

“One of the things that has been concerning [about] constitutional sheriffs more broadly, is that they have been normalizing a relationship between elected officials and self-proclaimed militias,” Cloee Cooper, a research analyst at Political Research Associates, told HuffPost. 

Cooper published a map last month that showed 401 documented “constitutional sheriffs” across the U.S. since 2013, with 161 currently in office.

Huffington Post has more.