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April 23, 1996 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-23

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NATION/WORLD

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 23, 1996 -11A

Militia's ranks are swelling nationwide

Los Angeles Times
PLAINFIELD, N.H.-It is five miles
to State Highway 120, 15 miles to the
county seat of Claremont, 50 to the
state capital of Concord and 500 to the
federal center of power in Washington.
Inside Ed. Brown's two-story wood
bin between the Green and White
Wountains, there is a government of
one. His.
A year ago, Brown was known to few
aroundhere. His place is up along Blow-
Me-Down Brook. His "No Trespass-
ing" and "No
Hunting" signs
out front ward off «I's j
any motorists or
hikers who hap- becoming
pen by.
But in the last monumea
year, the veil has
lifted from around numbers
Brown's reclu-
sive life. His tele-
phone now rings
incessantly, so University
much thathis own
phone bill reaches
$700 amonth. He
has set up an office on the second floor.
' Where he once pored over maps and
paramilitary manuals, he now writes
anti-government speeches and leads a
loose contingent of armed militias in
the backwoods of New England. Like
the iron-gray pistol always tucked
tightly in his waistband, Brown has
found a brand new sense of security.
What happened a year ago to change
everything was the bombing of the fed-
eral building in Oklahoma City. The
evastation in Middle America turned a
ational spotlight on the country's mi-
litia movement. But a strange thing
took place.
Most law enforcement officials and
private experts thought the public's
anger oyer Oklahoma City would all
but shut down the militias and other far-
flung extremist groups.
But today their numbers have in-
creased, by some counts manifold, both

by new members joining their ranks
and others, such as the 53-year-old
Brown, who no longer are afraid for the
world to know their politics.
Among the public at large, the share
of Americans expressing sympathy for
themilitiamovement--a minority, but
a substantial one - has not declined at
all since the bombing. A Los Angeles
Times Poll conducted just after the
bombing found 13 percent of Ameri-
cans said they were at least "somewhat
sympathetic" with "armed citizen mili-

1A
galmost
vital. The
are quite
- Gerald Carroll
of Iowa adjunct
professor

tia groups," in-
cluding 3 percent
saying they were
"very sympa-
thetic." Now, the
Times Poll, in a
survey conducted
nationwide April
13-16, finds 16
percent saying
they are sympa-
thetic, 3 percent
very sympathetic
- a change that
is not statistically
significant.

cant part of the national mind-set?
"It's just becoming almost monu-
mental. The numbers are quite stagger-
ing," said Gerald Carroll, an adjunct
professor at the University of Iowa who
has studied society's fringe element for
the last two decades. "Who'd have
thought they'd still be increasing like
this after Oklahoma City?
"But they're like a rattlesnake. If you
step on a rattlesnake, it shakes its coil
and raises up to strike you."
The trend is seen as an odd reflection
of the political mood across the country
that still holds federal authority in dis-
dain.
Most people do not embrace the radi-
cal theories put forth by the hard-core
militias about the coming one-world
government. And they deplore the at-
tack against the Alfred P. Murrah Fed-
eral Building in Oklahoma City, alleg-
edly carried out by two defendants who
had militia sympathies.
But in many regions, public senti-
ment remains tolerant or even sympa-
thetic to the idea of bucking the power-
ful government role in American life.
Over the last year, this has helped to
insulate the militias from blame associ-
ated with the terrorist strike, while the
exposure they have received from the

incident has only helped them thrive.
"Unfortunately, they've literally been
able to get their paranoid, hateful mes-
sage out to the world through this trag-
edy in Oklahoma," said Danny Welch,
director of the Klanwatch in the Deep
South organization.
Rather than being scorned, militia
members have found a ready forum for
their views. The major blows in stature
to their longtime nemeses, the FBI, the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire-
arms and other federal law enforcement
agencies have emboldened them fur-
ther. The current standoff in Montana
between fugitive "Freemen" holed up
on a ranch and FBI agents wary of
going in after them has done nothing to
detract from the image of strength.
At least for now, the militias are
clearly on a roll.
Even in Oklahoma, the state trauma-
tized by the bombing last April, militia
groups are more vibrant, perhaps buoyed
by a segment of public opinion that
shares their belief that the government
had some role in the blast.
In New Hampshire, Brown recently
sat back in his chair next to the wood
stove, chain-smoking Ultra Light 100s,
boasting about the movement's suc-
cesses and warning all the louder that

AP PHOTO
"Col." Steve Doney, commander of the Kalamazoo Chapter of the Southern
Michigan Regional Militia's 10th Brigade, speaks at a recruitment rally last year.

change ("war," he calls it) is coming.
Elsewhere, others are touting their
new clout:
Extremist leader John Trochmann
was the keynote speaker at a Prepared-
ness Expo last month in Las Vegas, one
of countless conferences he has ap-
peared at in the last year.
A top official of the Militia of Mon-
tana, the bearded, fiery-eyed Trochmann
emerged as the guru of the telegenic far
right after his debut before a Senate
panel convened in the wake ofthe bomb-
ing in Oklahoma City. Now he drives

the talk-show circuit. (He never flies;
he said he can't get his guns past the
airport metal detectors.)
"Attendance is up," he said in an
interview in Las Vegas, surveying the
several hundred-person audience that
was about to hear his 30-minute spielin
which he sells his books and videos.
U In Del Mar, Calif., Charlene Alden
and Terry Sanders are enthusiastic about
a "Constitutionalists March" on Wash-
ington they are planning for this sum-
mer, much like the "Million Man
March" last year.

Similarly, the poll a year ago found
20 percent of Americans saying that the
"activities of the federal government"
pose a "major threat" to the constitu-
tional rights of average citizens. In the
current poll, 19 percent said that.
Among the hard core of militia sup-
porters, many groups have reorganized
into smaller units in the last year, spread-
ing out in more states. At the same time,
dozens of local militias have coalesced
under the banner of a nationwide um-
brella group. They have staged several
regional training sessions around the
country in the last year. Pulled together,
they speak in a louder national voice.
To federal law enforcement and pri-
vate monitors who track their activities,
the phenomenon has been a bewilder-
ment that raises new alarms over how
far the movement will grow. Could the
groundswell loosely called the patriot
movement be evolving into a signifi-

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Every Bite Helps!
Ca p s Food!11111D Drive......
Move-Ot19
April 29 - May 3
May 6- May 10
Bring your unopened, nonperishable surplus canned
goods to the following campus-area congregations
between 9-5 weekdays during the 2-week period:
First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor
512 E. Huron, Near State Street
First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor
120 S. State Street (Across from the Frieze Bldg.)
This food recovery program is sponsored by the
Hunger Coalition and collected by Food Gatherers.
For information on disposing of refuse, reusables, and recyclables,
off-campus call the City of Ann Arbor's 24-hour information line at
99-Green. On-Campus Disposal, call 764-3422. Printed on Recycled Paper.

" - M phone: 663.5800
1140 south university (above goodtime chadeys), AA
mon.-thurs.: 9:00a-10:00p sundays
fri.& sat.: 9:00a-11:00p ll: a-8:Oop

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