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Posted on Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Recent militia arrests a wake up call for local law enforcement

By Tony Dearing

It turns out there was a very good reason that the Detroit office of the FBI declined comment recently when a reporter from asked whether local militia groups posed a threat to public safety.

At the time, the FBI was days away from launching a series of raids that would result in the arrest of nine members of the Hutaree militia group on charges of conspiring to kill local law enforcement officials.

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This combo of eight photos provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows from top left, David Brian Stone Sr., 44, of Clayton, Mich,; David Brian Stone Jr. of Adrian, Mich,; Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio; Tina Mae Stone and bottom row from left, Michael David Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Mich,; Kristopher T. Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; Joshua John Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Mich.; and Thomas William Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.

In light of the charges, it’s beyond ironic that militia members were invited to work alongside sheriff’s deputies searching for missing persons in Bridgewater Township on two recent occasions.

In an article published March 25, local officials expressed no concerns over what struck us as a questionable arrangement to recruit militia members to assist law enforcement. But national experts who study domestic extremist groups were emphatic in calling it a bad idea, and their words look prophetic now.

“It certainly seems poorly advised . . . to ask people who believe in completely false conspiracy theories and see the government largely as an enemy to help in law enforcement matters,” said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project, based in Alabama. “I don’t see how that could work out well.”

In January and then again the following month, Bridgewater Township Supervisor Jolea Mull asked the leader of a militia group based in Washtenaw County to assist in missing persons searches. She recruited other militia, including members of the Hutaree militia group based in Lenawee County.

In an email to, Mull defended her decision to recruit militia members, saying they were familiar with search and rescue techniques and knew the community. “... There’s an old cliché that says, ‘You are either part of the problem or part of the solution,’" she said in her email. "It is clear to me from these experiences that our local militia is part of the solution."

Two days after our article, FBI agents conducted raids in the Ann Arbor area as well as in Indiana and Ohio, ultimately arresting nine Hutaree members, including at least one who assisted the Bridgewater Township search. According to a federal indictment, members of the group had plotted to kill a law enforcement officer, and then use bombs to kill many additional officers who attended the funeral. The FBI said it conducted the raids last weekend because it believed the group planned to carry out the plot this month.

It is up to the courts to determine the guilt or innocence of those accused, but the charges are serious and chilling. At the very least, they should serve as a wakeup call for local officials at a time when militia membership is on the rise locally and across the country.

Militia members have the same rights as other citizens, and we do not seek to paint them all as domestic terrorists. Those who study militia groups say that many are merely survivalists who do not pose a threat to anyone. But it is clear that state and local authorities know little about the activities of militia groups or have viewed them generally as benign, when the history of the militia movement suggests the need for wariness.

We understand that Michigan State Police and local sheriff’s departments have little intelligence-gathering capability. That is the role of the FBI and thankfully, in this case, the feds demonstrated they have the capability to detect and respond to a potential domestic terrorism plot. According to the prosecutor handling this case, a federal agent was able to infiltrate Hutaree and gather evidence of the group’s plans.

Meanwhile, local authorities are reassessing how they view and interact with the growing militia movement in Michigan. From our point of view, that can’t come soon enough. Until the FBI raids, there clearly was a lack of awareness and concern on the local level that now looks dangerously naïve. As Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, recently reminded our readers: “They are all extremist groups, and any extremist group has the potential to go off the deep end.’’

(This editorial was published in today's newspaper and reflects the opinion of the Editorial Board at

Click here to see's complete coverage of the Hutaree.



Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 5:54 p.m.

Oh and BTW, since this is still the land of the FREE and innocent until PROVEN guilty is luckily in effect, perhaps you all should google FBI INFORMANT SCANDAL. Interesting reading that. Like I said, I'll wait to hear both sides of the story, not just the one being handed out before I make up my mind. Oh did'nt I mention the government and its agencies also having their own histories to be painted by? sorry my bad.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free Country, the right of the federal government to regulate the right to keep and bear Arms and regulate this militia, shall not be infringed." If anything, the state would regulate the militia as indicated above, but the people would have the right to keep and bear arms regardless. Fortunately, the SCOTUS has determined that the RKBA is an individual right, so frankly your "interpretation" is legally irrelevant. Where did I EVER say citizens do not have the right to bear arms?


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 12:24 p.m.

IT, as I have said, I have no problem with the owning of firearms. Being in a militia involves more than just owning or using guns, as far as I can tell it also involves the desire to be MILITARILY involved with like-minded people, often (certainly not always) for the sole purpose of overthrowing the government. If people want to join these groups, there is nothing to prevent it, nor would I like to see it prevented. However, as "militias" have a history of dangerous activities, and a history of attracting unstable people, they deserve close scrutiny. I think the irony is that by joining a militia one actually attracts the attention of the forces one is intent on limiting. The reason I bring up Armageddon is that so many today actually think that the government HAS opened concentration camps, HAS reached a point of tyranny and deserves to be overthrown by violent means. Some posters here have referred to the President as a "socialist dictator", akin to the dictator of Kyrzikstan (sp?) They are cheered along by allegedly mainstream commentators, most of whom quickly back track when their listeners/viewers go off the deep-end. Gingrich on financial reform " absolutely moves it towards a political dictatorship. From the blogoshpere "Barack Obama is a dictator in the making... " "Obama may wear the garments of savior in his speeches, but he clearly has the ambition of a dictator and we all better wake up to that real soon." -- Jim Carlin Personally I think these folks are crazy. But they firmly believe that we HAVE reached the point of tyranny, or are close to it. It sounds like you and me agree that we are nowhere close, but that may not prevent another Oklahoma City. Keeping a close watch on possible violent extremists is just good policy, to me. That does not mean re instituting COINLTELPRO, but it does mean watching closely and infiltrating if needed, using LEGAL methods allowed by the 4th Amendment and other portions of the Owners Manual. What the Manual tells us is that legitimate militias SHOULD be regulated by States, and by the feds. If a state is of the opinion that the federal govt has reached the point of tyranny then it is UP TO THE STATE to call up it's militia, NOT up to individual citizens to vote in some trailer to go after government workers. "It may seem unlikely, but do you really think the Germans expected Hitler?" The Germans welcomed Hitler, they voted him into power, in a Nationalistic fervor. Too often Nationalism is confused with Patriotism, especially in far right circles. Do you honestly think that our current president is the next Hitler? It does not seem so from your comments, but many here have posted just that.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

Clownfish, I believe I gave a clear example of what I thought was tyrannical in my previous post. To be more exact: When the government starts putting people in concentration camps, killing off political opponents, disarming the public, completely circumventing the political structure by declaring a dictatoship, and creating death squad units to eliminate people that resist this - THEN "Armageddon" has hit. As I said, if history repeats itself (which it often does), someday something along these lines will happen in the US. So, obviously, this health care thing does not qualify as tyrannical. You have pulled my comments compeltely out of context and inserted a link to a story that has nothing to do with anything I have said. Additionally, you have pulled "well, regulated, militia" out of its surrounding context which once again is: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It does not say: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free Country, the right of the federal government to regulate the right to keep and bear Arms and regulate this militia, shall not be infringed." If anything, the state would regulate the militia as indicated above, but the people would have the right to keep and bear arms regardless. Fortunately, the SCOTUS has determined that the RKBA is an individual right, so frankly your "interpretation" is legally irrelevant. My point about free speech and voting was: I highly doubt anybody would suggest that to exercise your right to free speech or voting you would want to be in a government organization, you want to do it on your own. So, why would those exercising their 2nd Amendment rights want to be in a government organization?


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:28 a.m.

So, this would be acceptable in DC under the "tyranny" of Barak Obama? IT, do YOU think the passage of insurance legislation was "Armageddon"? Is mandated private insurance a tyranny that calls for armed rebellion? That is what an awful lot of militia members are saying. "Should all people that want to exercise their right to free speech join a government run organization too?" There are plenty of non-government groups out there. It is not government run or nothing. What does "well regulated militia" mean to you? To me it means what it says, and what is backed up by article 1, sec 8.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

Clownfish, I am not suggesting that firearms be used against federal government personnel unless it is to defend against an oppressive government (ie. Nazi Germany). If history repeats itself which it tends to do) one day somebody will try this in the US or there will be some sort of military coup. It may seem unlikely, but do you really think the Germans expected Hitler?


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

For those suggesting that if one wants to be part of a rescue team or train with weapons the correct thing to do is join a government run organization (and I do respect the job that firefighters, cops, etc do), I have a question. Should all people that want to exercise their right to free speech join a government run organization too? How about the folks that want to vote? It's not a pick and choose thing. We are either all individuals with rights who choose our own destiny or not. The government already controls way too much as it is. Do you really thing a bunch of "running mouths" will stop a government that turns oppressive? Check into your Russian history. Better yet, check into the history of every single other country in the world. How many have had oppressive governments that took over their people through force and unarmed the populace first. Wake up folks, you are responsible for you, not the government.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

IT, I am in full agreement on protecting oneself, but we part ways when it comes to using arms to protect against "an over reaching government". That is what the ballot box and courts are for. I own, and regularly use firearms, but not against government personnel. As far as police and others being strapped for funds, take a look at some of the things they have to put up with from "militias", using YOUR tax dollars... I don't know political affiliations of posters here, so I cannot speak to their thoughts, but I am amused that so many "right wingers" call for a reduction in taxes (to the point of drowning the government in a bathtub) then decry the lack of police support, and the need for an un-regulated often poorly trained armed citizen group to defend us from...what again? If I am being robbed, I can call 911. Which militia group do I phone up? Please see my above post about the MVDF. If one wants to help law enforcement, then join a law enforcement support organization, not "brigade" of vigilantes.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

Dear Clownfish, Although it is blatantly obvious that the Bill of Rights has always applied to individuals, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the 2nd Amendment was an individual right (Heller Case) and will hopefully be applying this to the states (Chicago vs. McDonald case). For you to proport that the 2nd Amendment is a right assigned to the federal government is patently ridiculous. Please reread: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Clearly, this refers to the right of the people and not to the right of the federal government. I am not a militia member by the way, but I am a strong proponent of individual rights, especially the 2nd amendment. I am not in agreement with the extremist views put forth by some militias, but I am in strong agreement with having a civilian "owned and operated" security force to fend off an over-reaching government, as that is the main purpose of the 2nd Amendment beyond personal self-defense. Furthermore, to not take responsibility for your own security is not only foolish, but weak. If one is afraid to defend onerself (or to learn/prepare to defend oneself) without relying on others, that is too weak to be an acceptable member of the human species (evolution anybody?). Police are there to investigate the scene after the crime has already happened in many, if not most, cases. This type of weak attitude of let the government do it for me (no matter what it is we're talking about) is why we are in decline as we speak.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:37 a.m.

"I am one of the people who believe in working for everything that I have, not working to give everything I have to other's who don't work. " What does this have to do with militias? "Unlike most people who live in the Ann Arbor area, I support the military and the militia's point of view" How do you know what "most people" think? How do you know what "the militias" point of view is, as the Hutaree has one point, the Wolverines have another, and Norm Olson had a very different idea than what Mr. Bachman seems to have. One may support the military, a regulated,, controlled group with a definite command structure, and be opposed to an ad hoc group of armed citizens with their own agendas.


Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 2:04 p.m.

If my family member was missing I wouldn't care who was helping me look for them. It seems to me that certain individuals do not grasp that Hutaree are different from the regular militia. With police budgets cut to the bone because the citizens don't want to pay increased taxes to support the emergency services the police don't have the man power for everything. Unlike most people who live in the Ann Arbor area, I support the military and the militia's point of view. I am one of the people who believe in working for everything that I have, not working to give everything I have to other's who don't work.


Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

Q: WHAT IS THE MICHIGAN VOLUNTEER DEFENSE FORCE? A: A state defense force is authorized by Federal law, Title 32 of the United State Code and in Michigan, by the Michigan Military Act 150 of 1967. The State of Michigan Volunteer Defense Force is an all-volunteer, uniformed public service organization which serves under the command of the Governor as Commander-in-Chief and is directed by The Adjutant General. The Michigan Volunteer Defense Force is a non-federally recognized component of the authorized military forces of the State of Michigan. It is a separate command from the National Guard but is under the direction of The Adjutant General of Michigan. Unlike the National Guard, the MIVDF is to be used for service exclusively within the State of Michigan. All MIVDF members take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America and the State of Michigan to obey the orders of the Governor of the State of Michigan, and the officers appointed over them. Members serve for a period of not less than one year.


Tue, Apr 6, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

As to states regulating militia, that is NOT what the Owners Manual says; "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. " Article I, 8 The Congress shall have power... To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress. As I read it, it is clearly the purview of the feds, NOT the states (other than appointing officers). Have you been appointed by any state official? Are you a member of the MIVDF? Has the federal government called you out to suppress an insurrection? Or, have many militias taken it upon themselves to create insurrection? Perhaps you should not alawys use Mark Potok and the SPLC,or ADL as your only source of information. I have met and talked with some militia members, albeit the Olde School, ie those that thought President Clinton was the New World Order guy. Some were quite thoughtful, others were knuckle draggers. What got me worried was that when I questioned deep, even the thoughtful ones were at their heart anti-semites (Jews run the world)and were of the firm belief that the UN was taking over. It heartens me that your group seems to be, shall I say, more liberal than those I met in the 90's. But, you are one group among many, many that are armed and have threatened to "take back" their country from alleged "Marxists". (a myth if there ever was one. Combined with the rage emanating from right wing talk shows, it is a dangerous combination. It would be my preference that instead of practicing military maneuvers after your first aid training and canning lessons, that you moved into the law library. If, in fact, you are teaching some constitutional law, I would suggest more clarification on the 2nd Amendment, as it is clearly designated for the feds. Back in 1776 there may have been a need to have citizen soldiers to fight off the original occupants of our land, as well as the Brits and the occasional slave rebellion. Now, however, we have the largest military in the world, the National Guard, Border Patrol, State police, county police and township/city police. why not a militia? Answered by TRU- "You can never escape the fact that your existence is based on implied use of deadly force. " That separates you from politics and democracy. It is up to YOU to moderate your fellows. When, not if, the next group goes off the wall, it will be your image that suffers.

William Bachman

Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 8:19 p.m.

Clownfish-Thank you for response to my comment. You ask "Why a militia?"..why not a militia?...Being former military I so CHOOSE to be part of a citizen militia as an extension of that military service,as did Micheal Meeks. You state that "I help out my neighbors,friends and relitives in various ways,yet never found the need to practice military maneuvers in order to help them.."First that is your CHOICE to do so.Second your assuming that ALL we do is military maneuvers,you would be wrong.Though defensive maneuvers are practiced with most militia,We also have first aid training,hold classes with regards to what rights citzens of the United States have accorded to them through our Constitution and Bill of Rights.We also hold classes on food canning and surviaval techniques.These are just SOME of the things we do. As for very little need for armed services help for search and rescue,the National Guard and at times the Army Reserves are called to help in SAR operations.In fact the USAF auxilary Civial Air Patrol was set up for just this reason.A group I belonged to while in junior high and high school here in Ann Arbor. As for your comment "There exsists a strong connection between militas and white supermacist movement and other hate groups in this country,is not a figment of the imagination"Would it help you to know that,though my last name is German from my adoptive father,I am,In fact full blood Mexican.In fact we have a Little person who is African American and is a Lesbian who trains with us.While I do not deny that there exsists groups like the one's you stated,we are not them.That is a choice they make.Perhaps you should not alawys use Mark Potok and the SPLC,or ADL as your only source of information. As for being regulated,Clownfish I am all for it,however as you do not know what the second amendment states,it should be the States that regulate the militia not the federal goverment.A move that citizen running for governor of Idaho wishes to do. As for distancing ourselves from "wild and crazies"apparently you've not been watching the same news I have.There are several militia groups that have done just this. Also we have firemen,as well as parmadics and even some militia members who are serving police officer's that are part of our group. Clownfish,I do appreciate the civil way you and I are going about this conversation,I look forward to hearing more from you.Until then please be safe and take care.


Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 5:43 p.m.

Mr Bachman, the question I have is: Why a "militia"? Why do you feel it necessary to be a citizen soldier in order to help your community? I help out my neighbors, friends and relatives in various ways, yet have never found the need to practice military maneuvers in order to help them. Even a search and rescue has little need of armed forces. There exists a strong connection between militias and the white supremacist movement and other hate groups in this country, it is not a figment of the imagination. I would suggest that the first step in distancing your groups from the wild and crazies might be to stop using the term militia. Actually, one more question: Would you be willing to be well regulated by the federal government, including names, addresses, types of arms available, skill sets of members etc?

William Bachman

Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 1:42 p.m.

As one who helped the Wasthenaw County Sheriff in the one of the Search And Rescues,I can assure those who have doubt about our intentions,that helping local law enforcement is quite genuine.In fact we were asked to help by WCSD deputies in the second SAR of a missing man.Our intention was/is to help our local policing agencies to be the very best they can be. We wish to be part of the solution,not part of the problem.There is within the Militia movent certain groups that wish to distance themselves from local law enforcement as well as local goverment.To them we say,you have the wrong idea.We who wish to aid in anyway we can to ease the burden that our local law enforcement is under due to cut back's and layoff's should be seen as welcome not worriesome.And a person who also believed in this was/is Micheal Meeks of Manchester,currently being held by the F.B.I. Michheal or "Mikey" as we call him,also had these same beliefs.So much so that he aided withe first Search And Rescue of a missing women in Bridge Water Twp. He was also a precinct deligate.Mikey believed that genuie change could ONLY come about at the voting booth.While he did train with Hutaree members-something he enjoyed since leaving the service as a decorated United Stayes Marine-their idea of starting a war with the federal goverment is/was antithetical to his beliefs of being part of the solution,and not the problem.Do some people with the RIGHT intentions sometimes get put in with the bad?Yes they do. I believe as a Militia member that we have an image problem to over come,however I understand that this will take time.I look forward to putting a positive view-not spin-on our Militia.Do I agree with what SOME of the Hutaree members belived in,NO.If you want to bring about change in the Governing body,do so at the voting booth,educate others in a possitive way. In closing,I would like to say this,I care about the community I live in.Do we not ask our citizens to get involved in making changes?Should I or Mr.Meeks be treated any diffrently simply because me are Militia members?You nay sayers out there condeming us before you know us,ask yourselves this.How much have you done to help your communties?


Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

It's important not to over react. As there were no gun shots fired, and no one injured, I can only conclude that either the FBI did a good job, or the "perps" were not all that violent to begin with. I suspect it was a little of both.


Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

Technojunkie, Iraqi "militias" have also been involved in attacks on the Iraqi government, US soldiers and they have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. Many are classified as terrorist groups by the US government. So, I guess they do have common ground with our militias. (Again, the irony of people that support aggressive socialism for Iraq, with borrowed money, but oppose any form of socialism for their neighbors boggles my mind) If people want to be part of the solution, they can join the Red Cross, Food Gatherers, local anti-poverty groups, mainstream churches, registered rescue groups etc. They could go out and create jobs and businesses. Or, I guess they can be like Mugtada al-Sadr if that is the Way for them. But, don't get all shocked when some of them turn out to want to kill American government workers, after being egged on by celebrity entertainers and extremist politicians that view insurance reform as Armageddon.

charles lightoller

Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 9:04 p.m.

Militias serve no authentic social purpose. They make ineffective military preparations against enemies that don't exist. If people want to be part of a response to emergencies - fires, search and rescue, natural disasters - they can join emergency services that exist for that purpose. The cops don't need militias formed around narrow political idealogy. They need tax revenue.

Basic Bob

Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

Within any group there will always be extremists. If we isolate all militia members because of a handful of anarchists, we encourage them all to band together and proliferate out of sight. IMO, it is polarizing to present the views of another extremist group such as the ADL. Some of their members could also 'go off the deep end' in their own way.


Sun, Apr 4, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

Our military has been working with Iraqi militias for quite some time, making those militias part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Working with Michigan militias on a job that they're actually good at is trivial by comparison. It also gave local law enforcement an opportunity to become more familiar with two militias. I'd call that effective police work. Outsourcing intelligence gathering to the FBI strikes me as being very dangerous. That should be handled at the local and state level. An overbearing federal government that pokes its nose where it doesn't belong is what created the militias in the first place. This time it worked out, unlike federal interventions at Waco and Ruby Ridge, mostly because other militias helped to weed out a genuine offensive threat. Next time...?