The term militia is commonly used to define a military force that is composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or service, in times of emergency without being paid a salary or committing to a fix terms of service. Lately the media has been flooded with news and stories surrounding a specific Michigan based militia group, Hutaree.
Based in Lenawee County, Michigan the Hutaree, or Christian Warrior, were raided by federal authorities this past weekend (March 28-29). It is believed that this group was in the process of plotting attacks on local law enforcement officials. The raids resulted in the arrests of 9 Hutaree members on the charges of seditious conspiracy, plotting to levy war against the U.S., possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, teaching the use of explosives, and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction (homemade bombs).
In an indictment released, prosecutors said the Hutaree have been conducting military-style training in the woods of Michigan since 2008. The members went through rigorous training learning how to shoot guns, conduct military like missions, and the making and setting off of bombs. Known as “Captain Hutaree”, 44-year-old David Brian Stone of Clayton, Michigan has been identified as the group’s leader. According to prosecutors David Stone had identified certain law enforcement officers near his home as potential Hutaree targets. The Hutaree, operating out of a double-wide trailer near rural Clayton, Michigan had discussed plans to murder a police officer to lure other officers to their fellow comrade’s funeral for an all out attack. It is believed that the Hutaree had several tactics to execute their plan. The plot members have discussed in order to set off bombs at a police funeral are using a fake 911 call to bait an officer to his death, killing an officer after a traffic stop, or attacking the family of an officer, according to the indictment. It is believed that this initial attack would act as a vehicle to intiate war on government officials and authorities.
The Hutaree viewed police officials as the “brotherhood’ and believed them to be enemies of Christ. The group has a strong foundation based on Christian beliefs and they consider themselves warriors ready to battle with Jesus against the forces of evil. The Hutaree website is decorated with biblical verses and quotes conveying their belief in the word of the Bible. It would appear that the Hutaree’s plotted war against the government stems from their religious faith.
The Hutaree website and other sources do not list or name any grievances against law enforcement and the government. Heidi Beirich, director of research at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said her group became aware of Hutaree last year while assembling their list of “patriot groups”. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a civil rights group that monitors extremism and those alike. According to their research the number of extremist anti-government groups jumped from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009.
This past Wednesday (March 31st) the Hutaree members appeared in court all entering not-guilty pleas. Eight of the members were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Detroit, while a ninth appeared in Indiana. In Detroit, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers battled back and forth arguing whether there was enough evidence to keep the Hutaree members in custody until trial.
Still this has to set off alarms not just here in Michigan, but throughout our nation. Thankfully we are sitting here today asking our selves “What if?” instead of possibly mourning the deaths of numerous officers and government officials. What does this mean for law enforcement officers? How can they continue to protect the public when they have to worry about protecting their own lives? What are your thoughts on this situation and what as law enforcement officers should be done?