Washington DC, Sep 5 (efe-epa).- Two members of a militia have been arrested by United States authorities on their way to the city of Kenosha in the northern state of Wisconsin for illegal possession of arms, and were allegedly aiming to “pick people off,” officials said on Friday.
Kenosha has been witnessing violent protests for nearly two weeks after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old African American man, seven times in the back, paralyzing him
Michael Karmo and Cody Smith, members of a group called “417 2nd Amendment Militia” from the state of Missouri, were arrested on Thursday on charges of possessing arms illegally.
Officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation found an Armory AR-15 assault rifle, a Mossberg 500 AB 12-Gauge shotgun, two handguns, a silencer, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, knives, body armor, a drone and other materials from their hotel room, prosecutors said.
Both men were not legally allowed to carry arms or ammunition because of having criminal records.
According to the case filed with a federal court in Wisconsin and covered by local media outlets late on Friday, Kenosha police had alerted the FBI after getting a tip that the suspects were armed and headed to the city to possibly “pick people off.”
The two said that they arrived near Kenosha to “see proof” of the “rioting” – referring to the protests – after attending a rally of US President Donald Trump.
Karmo allegedly said that they had later planned to go to Portland, Oregon and “take action” if the police were defunded.
The Facebook page of the 417 2nd Amendment militia – a reference to the second amendment of the US constitution guaranteeing the right to bear arms – displayed a series of posts hailing Kyle Rittenhouse, a young white man who killed two protesters in Kenosha last week, as a hero.
Trump has defended Rittenhouse in his speeches and taken a hard line against protesters even as demonstrations against police brutality have continued in many places across the country
On Friday, hundreds of people gathered in Rochester, New York, to protest against racism and police violence after the a video showing the death of Daniel Prude – who died in March after multiple white policemen forcefully held him down on the ground – was made public earlier this week.
Rochester police declared the protest an “illegal assembly” and began arresting some of the participants, with some eyewitnesses alleging that the officers also used pepper spray to disperse the protesters, local media reported.
The seven police officers who took part in Prude’s arrest in March have been suspended, but the action has failed to satisfy the protesters, who have demanded the resignation of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief La’Ron Singletary.
The US has been witnessing repeated Black Lives Matter protests since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died of asphyxiation after a white police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes during an arrest over an alleged fake $20 bill. EFE-EPA