AG Nessel Submits Testimony Ahead of U.S. House Hearing on Rise of Militia Extremists

Contact: Lynsey Mukomel 517-599-2746
Agency: Attorney General

May 26, 2021

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has submitted a statement to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties ahead of its hearing examining the role of militia groups in the current rise of right-wing extremism. 

The hearing, led by Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Rep. Jamie Raskin, will be streamed on YouTube beginning at 2 p.m. 

A portion of Nessel's statement reads: 

"Michigan is the original home of the militia movement and no stranger to the threat of domestic terrorism by violent militia extremists. Just last year, my office charged [eight] leaders and associates of the anti-government extremist militia, Wolverine Watchmen, with supporting a terroristic plot to kidnap and kill the Governor of our state; to hold members of our state legislature hostage in our state capitol for days before ultimately destroying it; and, planning to harm law enforcement officers who protect and serve our state residents. The U.S. Attorney's Office charged another [six] individuals stemming from the same investigation.  

"In the same month, my office charged members of 'The Base,' a white supremacist militia that conducts paramilitary training in preparation for starting a race-war in the United States. Its name derives from the literal translation of Al-Qaeda. Under Michigan law, this extremist militia is a gang, and my office charged them as such when the gang provided the motive, means, and opportunity to commit felonies in Michigan.  

"Some extremist militias are driven by white supremacist ideologies, others are inspired by far-right ideologies. Regardless of motivation, combatting violence is the goal and bipartisan solutions must be achieved...  

"...Legitimizing militias, combined with the toxic partisan rhetoric of today and fed by misinformation and disinformation, has led to a marked rise in militia extremism. It has helped to create a climate that nurtures and fosters the deep sense of grievance that extremists hold, which often manifests in violence.  

"In my home state we saw this when politicians held closed-door meetings with extremist militia members and stood with them on stages at rallies. Then, in April of 2020, some of the very same militia members who aided in the plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan conducted a dress rehearsal for what we saw at the U.S. Capitol in January of this year. They entered the Michigan Capitol during protests of the Governor's pandemic orders in full body armor with assault weapons and attempted to intimidate our state legislators. Even after this, our Legislature did not ban guns from the Capitol building.  

"What concerns me is the current inability of our national leaders to come together during times of crisis. After 9/11, bipartisan consensus was reached on issues of national security. Today, when facing the bipartisan problem of homegrown violent extremism, we cannot even agree to call it domestic terrorism let alone reach consensus on ways to solve it." 

Nessel's full statement can be read on the Michigan Department of Attorney General website. 

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