Garden City, Kansas, is described by locals as a typical “all-American city” where no one bothers to lock their doors. Some Somali immigrants also settled here to work in local meat factories; most are Muslim and belong to their island community with Somali mosques and shopping malls. Dan Day was born in the Garden City and never thought of leaving. He was a working-class man, a pious family man with a wife and two children. A supporter of the second amendment, with a no-kill-people-kill-people gun. Which his son targeted with an AR-15 machine gun. He didn’t know much about the nearby Somalis, but he would soon learn more about them.
In 2015, Day contacted a group of local police officers:
When he was invited to a barbecue, and was surprised that it was a staff meeting. You can recognize the name of the group. This three per cent participated in the January 6 riot. And they plan to kidnap Michigan Governor Whitmer (a plan that also coincided with an FBI informant). Day knows that three per cent are encouraged and annoyed by Alex Jones and Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. And frequently spreads far-right conspiracy theories and misinformation on Facebook. A Facebook post relating to Day raised the flag at the FBI, so they knocked on Day’s door. He said that he had no problems. Instead, they wanted to know if he had any inside information about the militia he wanted to share. He cooperated.
Soon Day agrees to attend the three per cent meeting and report to the local FBI office. To be an official classified source and carry telegrams from time to time. It doesn’t fit the profile of a regular informant; he is not a member of any organization seeking to escape or gain immunity. His official motivation is “patriotism,” He says in a calm and sincere tone that he doesn’t mind the “little adventures” in his life. He soon gets on board with a police hawker named Patrick Stein. While overseeing a Somali apartment complex and often refers to its residents in harsh and derogatory terms. Day tells the story of telling Stein to shoot and kill a Somali woman and her child. While they were sitting by the side of the road.
After a while, Stein, Day, and the other two parted ways with three per cent and became crusaders.
They devised a plan to drop bombs on housing complexes in Somalia. And even learned how to make detonators, test explosives, and make promises. The Day after the 2016 election because they feared the presidential election. To Hillary Clinton, if they’ve done it before. Meanwhile, Day passed the information on to the FBI.
Day’s role in avoiding a terrorist attack along with the Oklahoma City bombing is an exciting story. And the informants tell it in a bland and workable way. Don’t expect the visual style and breadth of a full-length documentary. It’s a 77-minute television news segment limited to conversational chapters telling us what’s going on. With Stefanopoulos occasionally popping the softball question of Day, Ahmed, or the average provide FBI officers. The most exciting element of the story is the FBI audio. Where we hear Day interacting with Stein, whose rhetoric about racism and xenophobia is not surprising, ugly, and disturbing.
So this film gives us the basics of the narrative, but most importantly. It reflects the complexity of the Day as a character and the social dynamics of Garden City. The Day seems like the part of Central American gunsmiths who might get entangled in a crazed militia clown who will call himself a “patriot” when the US Capitol is attacked on January 6 – but that’s not the idea.
Remarkably, he sees his role in fighting domestic terrorism as a civic duty:
But Stephanopoulos didn’t ask a tricky question: why did he have so many guns? How does he relate to Trump’s rhetoric? What did he learn about the American political environment after his actions? Was he afraid of the possible consequences if he appeared on national television as a former FBI informant? In addition, the film tells us that there are currently 2,000 active militia groups. On the FBI watch list after January 6 – is Day worried about death threats and harassment? And it raises the question of whether viewers are willing to risk their safety. And perhaps their lives to do the same.