Justice for Black Lives is calling for a West Michigan official to be removed after photos and text messages surfaced online this week.
In a video from a June protest at the Veteran Garden of Honor in Allendale, Ryan Kelley, a township planning commission board member, is seen standing near William Null.
Null is one of 13 men charged this week in connection with a plot to kidnap the governor.
Kelley is also under scrutiny for a text message he sent the township supervisor about his plans to invite the militia to the Allendale demonstration.
In the conversation, which FOX17 has verified, Kelley says in part that he has a megaphone and is, “going to be LOUD, heavily armed and Patriotic.”
“We wanted them [ the militia ] to be there for security, to make sure they kept the peace,” said Kelley.
According to Kelley the Allendale rally was the third event he invited members of the militia to attend. Kelley founded the American Patriot Council this year and hosted rallies in Lansing and Grand Rapids.
Kelley says he never invited Null specifically, saying he was invited by someone else.
Null attended at least one of the other demonstrations Kelley held.
“It was just a brief introduction at the rally and he seemed like a nice gentleman,” said Kelley. “He was professional, he didn’t have anything negative to say, he seemed nice, but I didn’t get to know him. I had no communication with him outside of the brief introduction.”
When asked if he knew William’s brother, Michael, who was also charged in the case, Kelley said he may have met him, but could not remember.
“I don’t have any regrets,” said Kelley. “I’m not part of anything they’re doing, that they’re alleged accused of, and so as far as I knew they weren’t up to anything like that.”
Justice for Black Lives says Kelley’s association is not acceptable.
“If someone who is planning to kidnap the governor is good guys, what is good?” asked Carina Freeman, Justice for Black Lives political director. “What do we consider good? And someone with those rhetorics, should not sit on the planning board.”
“You’re known by the company that you keep and he’s keeping company with very bad people,” said Jeff Seaver, who lives in Allendale.
“There’s nothing illegal or unlawful that I’ve done,” said Kelley. “I denounce violence as a means of political gains in any and all circumstances.”