The militia lurking in your backyard

The Thomaston Express/December 21, 2000
By Mike Chaiken

Plymouth -- The Southern Poverty Living Center has taken notice of it. Stop the Hate also is keeping an eye on it.

But even though it lists its headquarters as Terryville, and has 34 members according to its own website, which has received more than 6,000 hits since November 1999, few people in Thomaston and Plymouth have heard of the Connecticut 51st Militia.

The Connecticut 51st Militia. It sounds like a unit of the National Guard. Or perhaps a group that recreates Revolutionary War battles. But, it's not. It's a private militia group based in Terryville that claims to be invoking its Constitutional rights as patriots.

The SPLC, which is a non-profit organization that combats hate, intolerance, and discrimination, maintains a Militia Intelligence Report that keeps track of privately-organized "militias" and patriot groups. That's how the 51st Militia came to the attention of the Express.

The Connecticut 51st Militia, based in Terryville, is the only private militia group listed for Connecticut by the SPLC ( "The Intelligence Project identified 217 'Patriot' groups that were active in 1999," the SPLC said. "Of these groups, 68 were militias... Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the 'New World Order' or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines."

The SPLC notes: "Listing (in the Intelligence Report) does not imply that the groups themselves advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities, or are racist. The list was compiled from field reports, Patriot publications, the Internet, law enforcement sources and news reports. " Although the SPLC has taken notice of the Connecticut 51st Militia, it has not done anything in the area to capture the attention of local police or law enforcement agencies. Thomaston police said they had never heard of the organization until the Express mentioned it.

The Connecticut 51st Militia seems primarily to manifest itself on the world wide web where it maintains several web sites. The most recent one established by the organization,, lists the organization's mailing address as a P.O. Box in Terryville. It also lists a "commander" -"Chris Duke."

There are no "Chris Dukes" listed in the phone book for Terryville. The website does list a voice mail number. Messages were left on the voice mail for "Duke" about this article, but he could not be reached by the Express. At Homestead website, the organization explains it is "a constitutional militia. We support the constitution to the fullest extent and we believe that our American rights and civil liberties must be protected by the people for the people. We believe that a highly moral foundation is the only way to ensure that this great country will survive and prosper the way our forefathers intended it to."

As for "Duke" himself, the commander of the 51st Militia posts some personal information about himself at a club site hosted by Yahoo. ( The validity of the information is uncertain since anyone can be anyone on the internet. But the profile describes Duke as a 23 year old Plymouth resident who is "single and looking." He lists himself as a network administrator whose hobbies are: "computers, guns, hunting, my pit bull (it's like having a child that never grows up), ecology, nature preservation, music, hiking, strolling on the beach, rock climbing, trying not to be in pain."

In a message on the bulletin board of the Yahoo club site, Duke set down in words the mission of the 51st Militia. He wrote: "Friends, the question is the GREAT U.S.A or the GLOBALIST/COMMUNIST UN. I certainly hope we will stand our ground patriots, because they WILL be coming for our guns SOON. (C)ases in point UK, AUSTRALIA AND EVEN OUR NEIGHBOR CANADA. I know personally I will not let them do it here, but I certainly hope the Connecticut patriots will say the same."

Guns are a big preoccupation for Duke and, apparently, for the 51st Militia, if the web sites are any indications. Most of the links included on the web sites take you to other pages with information about buying and using guns, including several brands of automatic and semi-automatic weaponry. On the Homestead website, the Militia even posts a photograph of a ski-mask clad "patriot" holding what appears to be a machine gun.

What does it take to be a member of the 51st Militia? An application posted on the organization's website asks prospective members the following: "Do you believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the United States of America? Are you willing to defend those rights for yourself, family, militia, community and country at all costs? Do you believe that there is such a thing as a 'tyrannical government'? Do you work for law enforcement or federal government? Will you agree to keep all information about other members anonymous?"

If the 51st Militia is real, it joins a growing number of such organizations that has the FBI on its toes. In a report to the FBI (, "Militias: Initiating Contact," James E. Duffy and Alan C. Brantley, M.A. describe the typical militia members. And Duke, at least, appears to fit the bill.

They write: "Most militia organization members are white males who range in age from the early 20s to the mid-50s. The majority of militia members appear to be attracted to the movement because of gun control issues... Many militia members believe that these legislative initiatives represent a government conspiracy to disarm the populace and ultimately abolish the Second Amendment to the Constitution... Militia members generally maintain strong Christian beliefs and justify their actions by claiming to be ardent defenders of the Constitution.

They often compare the American Colonial period (1607-1783) to their present existence by relating significant Colonial dates and events to lend historical weight to their own beliefs and actions. Many militias claim to represent the ideological legacy of the founding fathers tracing their core beliefs to select writings and speeches that predate the Revolutionary War."

FBI Director Louis Freeh said in a 1999 report that the United Nations, in particular, is the focus of ire for many militias. "(The UN) is perceived as an organization bent on taking over the world and destroying American democracy and establishing 'the New World Order.' The New World Order theory holds that, one day, the United Nations will lead a military coup against the nations of the world to form a one-world government. United Nations troops, consisting of foreign armies, will commence a military takeover of America.

The United Nations will mainly use foreign troops on American soil because foreigners will have fewer reservations about killing American citizens. Captured United States military bases will be used to help conquer the rest of the world." Some militias go beyond a distrust of the UN and anxiety over gun control issues, the FBI said.

FBI director Freeh explained in a statement to Congress in 1999: "Most of the militia movement has no racial overtones and does not espouse bigotry; there are some black and Jewish militia members. However, the pseudo-religion of Christian Identity, as well as other hate philosophies, have begun to creep into the militia movement... Christian Identity is a belief system that provides both a religious base for racism and anti-Semitism, and an ideological rationale for violence against minorities.

This pattern of racist elements seeping into the militia movement is a disturbing trend, as it will only strengthen the radical elements of the militias." At first glance, the 51st Militia does not appear to espouse any racist views on its many web sites. The Constitutional right to bear arms seems to be the primary concern of the group.

The militia even quotes the Constitution on one site: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." But a more detailed examination of the 51st Militia's website at Homestead uncovers a mysterious link to take the web surfer another website. The link is labeled "COTWC Connecticut." Beneath the label is an image depicting a globe with a "W" topped off by a crown. Underlining the image, in big bold letters is the word, "RAHOWA."

"RAHOWA" stands for "racial holy war," the Anti-Defamation League explains in its website ( And COTWC stands for Church of the World Creator. Church of the World Creator is not a religious group like the Catholic Church. And its message is not something one will likely hear Sunday morning at mass.

On its website,, the Church of the World Creator is forthright with is mission, "Let us build a whiter and brighter world." The ADL reports WCOTC is "one of the fastest-growing hate groups in the 1990s... (Its) stated goal is 'making this an all-white nation and ultimately an all-white world.'" The ADL explains: "WCOTC has over 35 post office box addresses across the United States and two overseas."

Here in Connecticut, the WCOTC lists two churches within the state borders- one in Wallingford and one in Fairfield. In an essay posted on the site, the COTWC's leader, Matt Hale wrote an essay typical of the group's views. It is entitled "The Nature of the Jew."

In the piece, Hale writes: "(The Jew) is the great distorter who has been justly prosecuted (not persecuted) for his various acts. What stands between him and his goal of destroying all that which is beautiful is you and I-we who are aware of the mosquito and have the hand to swat them. Through our efforts, the true 'judgment day' will come-the day in which the Jews will be rendered harmless for all time."

Although the 51st Militia links its website to a racist organization, the group's bulletin board at Yahoo exhibits a mixed message about the organization's views on race relations, at least among the Yahoo club's members. For example one poster wrote: "Attention all Patriots of The Republic of Texas. There is now an organization that is looking out for you. We are the Texas Aryan Guard, based out of the Houston metroplex! We stand to gain much with the support of all of our white brothers and sisters! We need each and everyone of you to stand side by side with us!"

However another member of the 51st Militia quickly repudiated the racist message from Texas. He wrote: "This whole 'Aryan' thing is exactly what gives the militia movement a black eye, and ya gotta wonder cuz the 'Aryan Brotherhood' is a national gang association, prisoners and ex-cons.

The militia has to stand against that kind of garbage! Freedom for ALL people, not just the race of one's particular choice!" The member continues: "Our mission should simply to be to educate Americans, gunowners especially, what constitutional militias are really about.

Take away the fear and the disinformation (sic), let Truth stand on its own, and what is just and right will prevail."

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