Militia founder leaving state for Alaska

Associated Press Newswires/August 26, 2002

Traverse City, Mich. -- Michigan Militia founder Norman Olson plans to sell his northern Michigan property and move his family and followers to Alaska.

"The reality is, I can't live here any longer," the 55-year-old gun shop owner and preacher said Monday. "Alaska is a state that offers some hope."

Olson intends to sell his 120-acre plot near Alanson and is eyeing 21- and 7-acre parcels on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. Olson's wooded Michigan property long served as a militia training base, where his followers participated in paramilitary exercises.

During the early 1990s, Olson emerged as the growing militia movement's national spokesman, but lost the state commander's position after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Criticized as too radical by some in the movement, Olson was defeated in four subsequent elections for the Michigan Militia Corps-Wolverine commander post.

Olson said he's leaving for "political, social, economic, religious" reasons and believes complacency has hurt the state's militia movement.

"I'm afraid that over the last four years, the fire's gone out in the bellies of the patriots," Olson said. "We no longer shake the guns in the faces of the (bureaucrats and politicians)."

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