MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – A Lowcountry lawmaker is calling on state police leaders to crack down on any militia groups present in South Carolina, amid FBI investigations into a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
State Representative Wendell Gilliard says militias and hate groups are on the rise locally and statewide. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, there were 17 documented hate groups in South Carolina last year, with four being local to the tri-county area.
Gilliard says leaders need to take steps now to be prepared. He says the first step is breaching tough topics:
“You start first with having dialogue… We have to talk the hard talk to make change.”
He is asking to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Agency (SLED) to track and identify militia groups before threats reach the next step.
“It’s always centered around hate, the nucleus is hate,” says Gilliard. “That’s the ignorance of it all, it’s all about hate.”
However, many of Gilliard’s fears were realized when a South Carolina man was arrested for his involvement in the recent plot to kidnap Whitmer. The plot was thwarted thanks to the careful monitoring of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
Now, Gilliard feels an investigation by SLED is crucial to prevent any further action:
“Where are these groups, what are their activities…. What are we going to expect from these groups?”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Agency says they have received Representative Gilliard’s letter and say if they find any credible threats they will investigate like they would any other case.