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Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

A Michigan judge ruled Monday that three men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) will stand trial for gang membership, felony firearm and providing material support to terrorism, but dismissed charges of threat of terrorism, the Detroit News reports.

Why it matters: Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico are three of the seven men accused of having ties to the Wolverine Watchmen, a militia group charged in the plot. Whitmer wasn't the only governor they allegedly planned to target, the FBI has said.

What they're saying: "There has to be some form of intent here to incite mayhem," said Judge Michael Klaeren of the 12th District Court, per Detroit News.

  • The threat charge was dismissed because the group communicated on encrypted platforms, which is "in many respects no different than thinking the thought to yourself," Klaern said.

The big picture: According to Klaeren, the group had a "multi-tiered vetting process, secret means of communication, required training and exclusive membership."

  • "They started a very big snowball that wasn't going to stop," Klaeren said. Though the plot didn't materialize, "even something stupid can be a plan," he added.
  • Klaeren called the three men "erratic" and said he has reason to believe a successful kidnapping would "result in injury or death or the commission of other violent crimes."

Go deeper ... DHS chief: Domestic extremism is "single greatest terrorism-related threat" in the U.S.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.