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Facebook shuts down Michigan Second Amendment group with more than 94,000 members

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio
The Lansing library system says Michigan's open-carry of weapons law does not apply to its facilities.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Facebook. 

Facebook has shut down a Michigan Second Amendment rights group page that had more than 94,000 members.

Administrators for the group say there was no warning or explanation from Facebook before the page was taken down.

“They just shut it down,” says Tom Norton, an administrator for the group. “We woke up this morning, everybody was kicked off, blocked and 95,000 people disappeared.”

The move comes a day after federal and state law enforcement officialsannounced terrorism and other charges against 13 men who they say plotted to overtake the Michigan Capitol and kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Several of the men charged were active in demonstrations earlier this year, protesting emergency orders issued by Whitmer. An affidavit filed in federal court alleges the men communicated through Facebook groups to hatch their plan.

The Michigan 2A for Sanctuary Counties Facebook grouplaunched last year, before the emergency orders, as a way to organize support for local resolutions to declare counties “sanctuaries” for the Second Amendment.

"When we have the people standing up and representing what they want for their values, good things happen,” said Jeff Fuss, who was a founder of the page, and spoke to Michigan Radio about it earlier this year.

Today, Fuss says he also can’t access his personal Facebook page.

The page for another group, the American Patriot Council, also appears to have been shut down.

A Facebook spokesperson said the Michigan 2A for Sanctuary Counties group was shut down because it violated Facebook's policy on "militarized social movements." 

Facebook first announced the policy in August and says it has removed pages tied to more than 300 "Militarized Social Movements." 

The policy says Facebook will remove pages "where we identify discussions of potential violence, including when they use veiled language and symbols particular to the movement to do so."

Kate Wells contributed to this report.

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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