Right-wing militia groups across the country told BuzzFeed Tuesday that they denounce the deadly attack on the Boston Marathon and reject premature speculation that anti-government, pro-gun groups could be behind the twin explosions that killed three and injured dozens at the finish line Monday afternoon.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, some observers have used the fact that the marathon took place on Patriots' Day as a clue that they they could have been propagated by militia members trying to make an anti-government political statement. Law enforcement officials said Tuesday it's still unclear who is responsible for the bombings.
Both Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the chief actors in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, had ties to the Michigan Militia. Although the two men were reportedly kicked out of meetings, their association with the movement has branded militia groups as violent right-wing extremists.
Although the beliefs and objectives of militia organizations vary by group and location, the majority of members are fierce Second Amendment advocates who treat the federal government, generally, as a threat to constitutional freedom.
Mike Lackomar, a spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, not only condemned the Boston Marathon explosions, but said that attacks on innocent civilians are not in line with the aims of the modern-day militia movement.
"It's totally off-base," said Lackomar, whose Michigan group has more than 200 members. "People like to target us, but what we have here is an attack against civilians. If it's somebody that's pissed off at the government, they're going to look at a government target. And if it's somebody that's pissed off at law enforcement, they're going to look at a law enforcement target."
"This was a target of civilians, which is reprehensible by every measure of what we hold to our values," Lackomar added.
John Livengood, who helps run the Kansas State Militia, said there are three types of militias — only one of which could possibly be responsible for an attack like the one in Boston.
"That's the skinhead type of militia where it's all about race — that's those guys in Montana and Idaho — and they don't like society integrating the way that it has been," said Livengood. "They could have done it very easily."
"The second type of militia is the one that believes that the U.N. will be used to disarm the American population, and the third type of group" — the kind with which Livengood self-identifies — "is organized basically for self-preservation in a scenario of disaster or a global event that would neutralize the electronic advantage of the military. The third group is about protecting your neighborhood and your family," he said.
Of the first type of militia, Livengood said, "Who knows what they're capable of — those guys patrol the Mexican border hoping to see people come across so they can confront them with arms. We're not about that."
One of the cofounders of the Militia of Montana, Dave Trochmann, said the explosions in Boston had "nothing to do with militias — that's a bunch of bullshit. It was probably a raghead."
Indiana Militia Corps senior brigade member William Flatt, when reached by BuzzFeed Tuesday afternoon, hadn't yet heard about the explosions — "I've been a little out of communication here," he said, "with what's headed our way with regards to the economy, I'm just trying to get some duckies lined up" — but when informed about the events, he said he expected the "mainstream media to blame conservative god-fearing Americans" for the bombings.
"But to attack innocent people is anathema to the Constitution and anything that a legitimate militia stands for," said Flatt, who is also a board member on the United American Militia Advisory Council, a national militia group.
"Timothy McVeigh got kicked out of his militia meeting," Flatt added. "Pundits need to withhold judgment and let law enforcement do their jobs."
Ruby Cramer is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ruby Cramer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.