Law prof: Today’s militias are more Klan, less patriot

Law prof: Today’s militias are more Klan, less patriot

With militias in the news, a law professor explains their legality and history. On October 8, the FBI and authorities in Michigan announced terrorism , conspiracy, and weapons charges against 13 men—some of them associated with an anti-government militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen and the so-called “Patriot Movement.” Six of the defendants face additional charges including conspiracy to commit kidnapping—Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer their prime target. “In some ways, a more apt comparison for present-day militias would be less the early American militias than the Ku Klux Klan…” With the end of a contentious presidential campaign nearing, and the US population straining under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Homeland Security officials and the FBI have issued warnings of potential attacks. Greg Ablavsky , associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, focuses on early American legal history, particularly on issues of sovereignty, territory, and property in the early American West. He is the author of Federal Ground: Governing Property and Violence in the First US Territories (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2021). Here, Ablavsky answers a few questions about militias in the past and today: A The militia was a long-standing English institution transplanted to Britain’s North American colonies. In basic form, the militia was the community under arms: all able-bodied free men under a certain age (later limited in most states to white men) were obligated to serve. A combination of both military unit and police, they were often the only way for governments in early America […]

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