Hutaree Militia arrests reflect growth of potentialy violent anti-government groups

Heidi Beirich [Director of Research, Southern Poverty Law Center]: "The arrests this past weekend of nine members of the Hutaree Militia in what federal authorities are describing as a plot to murder a law enforcement officer in Michigan and then attack other officials who gathered for the funeral is another reminder of how burning hatred for the federal government can quickly morph into violence. After all, it was another government-hater, Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 killing 168 people, including 19 children in a day-care center.

The Hutaree Militia first came to the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center early last year, when our researchers found the group's MySpace page, which advertised their paramilitary training events. The Hutaree are just one of dozens of new anti-government "Patriot" groups that popped up in the last year as right-wing extremism exploded across the country in the wake of broad-based populist anger at political, demographic and economic changes in America. In fact, the so-called "Patriot" groups - militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose "one-world government" on liberty-loving Americans - rose from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 in 2009. Militias grew from 42 groups in 2008 to 127 in 2009. The last time America saw this much militia activity was in the months before the Oklahoma bombing.

The Hutaree arrests are just the latest in a series of domestic terrorism plots that have occurred over the past year and a half. Just a few weeks ago, Joseph Stack flew his airplane into an IRS building in Austin, TX, in a fit of anti-government rage. In the past year, six law enforcement officers have been killed by domestic terrorists enraged at the government, and high profile institutions, including the Holocaust Memorial Museum, have been targeted by men with anti-government grievances. The health care vote has further inflamed right-wing extremists. In the wake of the vote, several democratic offices had bricks thrown through their windows, a tactic egged on by an Alabama militia member.

Sadly, given the rage seething across the American political landscape - over racial changes in the population, soaring public debt and the terrible economy, the bailouts of bankers and other elites, and an array of initiatives by the relatively liberal Obama Administration that are seen as "socialist" or even "fascist" - this will not be the last incident of this kind."

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