Was Michigan’s Hutaree organization a harmless social club or a dangerous militia preparing for war with the government? Those were the opposing narratives presented Monday, by a federal prosecutor and a defense attorney, as the group’s seditious conspiracy trial began in Detroit, reports the city’s News. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Graveline told jurors the group “wanted a war.” Attorney Todd Shanker replied, “Calling this group a militia is pushing it. It’s really a social club.”
Defense lawyers framed the case as a First Amendment fight. William Swor, defense lawyer for alleged Hutaree leader David Stone Sr., said, “David Stone was exercising his God-given right to blow off steam and open his mouth.” Members of the group were arrested two years ago with national fanfare after Hutaree was infiltrated by an undercover agent and a paid informant.