Michigan’s militia history is among the longest in the nation, says Heidi Beirich, SPLC’s director of research. Several extremist groups were formed following the 1992 election of Bill Clinton, and they were active during his presidency.
The Michigan Militia, in particular, gained a national profile when Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh attended one of its meetings. (The group was cleared of any involvement with the 1995 bombing, which killed 168 people.)
Despite a cooling down period during the tenure of former President George W. Bush, Michigan continued to see militia activity during the last presidential campaign cycle, SPLC says. Groups like the Hutaree and others were able to recruit members easily because the of the strong militia tradition in the area.
In the Hutaree case, federal authorities say members of the militia reached out to larger and more mainstream organizations like the Michigan Militia, though the Michigan Milita has said it rejects the Christian survivalist doctrine of the Hutaree. In February, Hutaree members attended a summit of area militias in Kentucky to make contacts for acquiring explosive devices.
“The roots of militia activity are there [in Michigan], so if you want to organize something you know who to call,” Ms. Beirich says.