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BOX ELDER MILITIA DISBANDED DUE TO EVIL CONNOTATIONS

A former Utah Highway Patrol trooper has disbanded the militia in Box Elder, saying his group can't function as long as people associate militias with the Oklahoma City bombing.

"We have been thrown in the same blackened kettle of fear and distrust with the anti-government radicals who preach anarchy and chaos," said Doug Christiansen, who began organizing the militia late last year.From the start, the Box Elder militia was set up to support local law enforcement in the case of a natural disaster or invasion, Christiansen said Friday at a news conference in the back yard of his home near Tremonton.

The 50 or so members of the Box Elder militia trained in winter survival and map reading. They were not trained with weapons or even simulated weapons, Christiansen said.

"The militia was once, and still should be, an organization of honor and respect," he said. "Now it has become a title bestowed, not only on law-abiding citizens, but on anti-government groups, terrorists, racists and tax protesters."

Besides the bad publicity generated by the Oklahoma killings, his group was also stung by the lack of support offered by the Box Elder County commissioners and Gov. Mike Leavitt, Christiansen said.

Leavitt's office refused to recognize the militia, saying the governor was satisfied that local law enforcement could handle any calamity within the state.