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Hutaree: Why is the Midwest a hotbed of militia activity?

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"There are a number of regional factors that, over time and at various moments, helped the militia movement take hold in different parts of the country," says Chip Berlet, an analyst at Political Research Associates, a think tank in Somerville, Mass. "It certainly has emerged strongly in the upper Midwest."

Topping the list in the Midwest, Indiana has 21 patriot groups, Illinois has 10, and Wisconsin and Ohio have 13 each, according to SPLC.

Michigan's militia history

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.)

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