On February 6, the Federal Bureau of Investigation held a news conference with regards to a growing problem faced by local law enforcement agencies. According to the FBI, police throughout the country have been contacting the Bureau with requests for information and training in the sovereign citizen movement.
Over the next week, the online response to the Bureau’s statements ranged from confused to outraged. Conservative pundits were wringing their hands, fearing that the FBI will probably target their Tea Party readership as enemies from the state, while liberal pundits expressed glee how the FBI now considers Tea Party supporters to get domestic terrorists.
For instance, conservative commentator Glenn Beck aired a 12-minute segment on his show last week by which he determined that there is not any such thing as a sovereign movement, since he’s never been aware of it, and that the government is using this fictional group as a boogeyman to carry out nefarious things to Glenn Beck’s fans.
The good news for Beck is the fact that overlap between his fan base along with the sovereign movement is most likely minor. The not so good news for the rest of us is the fact state and local law enforcement agencies are having a heck of energy educating their officers regarding how best to identify and take care of this very real and potentially violent group.
If you’re a member of the Tea Party movement, the answer for this bad law is to protest your opinion in DC and also in other metropolitan areas, write angry letters to the Congressmen, and vote for politicians who go along with you that this type of law needs to be scrapped without delay.
If you’re a member of the what is a sovereign citizen, your approach is different. You start out by looking for a combination of quotes, definitions, court cases, the Bible, Internet websites, and so forth that justify the best way to ignore the disliked law without any legal consequences. Be imaginative. Pull a line from your 1215 version in the Magna Carta, a definition from the 1913 legal dictionary, a quotation from a founding father or two, and placed it from the blender with 14dexipky official-sounding Supreme Court case excerpts you seen on like-minded websites. Better still, find a person else online who disliked that same law and pay them $150 to get a three-ring binder full of their word salad research.
Et voilà, not simply do you have proven that you don’t ought to obey legislation you dislike, heck, it’s your patriotic duty to disobey it, and anyone that informs you otherwise is just plain un-American and it is probably a part of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy to ensure that Chihuahuas are slaves for the US government.
When you can choose which laws to set using your special blender, you will be effectively putting yourself especially laws.
Sovereign citizens are true believers. They generally entered the movement by purchasing into a scam or conspiracy theory which not only promised them a quick fix with their problems, but wrapped such solutions within a heavy layer of revolutionary rhetoric. As soon as a sovereign feels the flush of excitement and self-importance which comes from acting as being the David towards the U.S. government’s Goliath, they understand, with a bunch of their hearts and souls, that their research is correct, that the cause is just, and that anyone that disagrees together is really a criminal who deserves to get punished.
These sovereign citizens may also be doomed to failure; the tax collector, prosecutor, and judge have got all heard these same legal theories many times already and understand that they are bogus.
Each time a person believes his cause is simply, yet he meets failure over and time and time again, there comes a point where he has to make up your mind: he can admit his theory is wrong and move on, or they can fight dirty.
Non-violent retaliation against government employees and police force is easily the most common response, and might take the shape of filing false liens, filing bogus Forms 1099, sending threatening correspondence, suing government employees for huge amounts of money, and cyber-stalking individuals in government who disagree with the sovereign’s legal theories.
Some sovereigns plot a violent revenge, seeking to inspire others from the movement to reach their breaking point sooner. By way of example, after twenty years of seeking to persuade the internal revenue service as well as the Tax Court that his blender salad of legal theories was accurate, during 2010, private pilot Joseph Stack flew his airplane into an IRS building in Austin Texas, killing one tax collector, and injuring thirteen others.
“I saw it written once the concise explanation of insanity is repeating exactly the same process over and over and expecting the end result to suddenly be different. I am just finally prepared to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.” — Joseph Stack’s suicide note
Most sovereigns who act violently, however, have no grand plan in place; they just lash out when they’ve failed one a lot of times. Some commit suicide, but for the majority of them, the last straw might be something as small as being stopped by way of a highway patrolman to have a busted tail light or something as large as being evicted off their home as soon as the bank forecloses on their property.
Because most people don’t have any direct experience of government other than with local police force, officers tend to be at an especially high-risk of bearing the brunt of sovereign citizen anger.
On the surface, sovereigns believe some pretty outrageous things, as well as an outsider, their legal theories seem fairly silly. Up to the current wave of violence, most police officers who encountered sovereigns found them more amusing than anything else. Following recent police shootings in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, officers now should rethink their opinion with this group.
Also, sovereign citizens don’t call themselves that. Actually, in the event you ask someone if she actually is part of the movement, she is probably going to respond the “sovereign citizen” label is surely an oxymoron, which she is somebody seeking the Truth. She may then launch in to a ten minute lecture about 18th century ideals of individual sovereignty. A non-sovereign simply answers, “No.”
Possibly the hardest hurdle for law enforcement is handling stereotypes. The very first generation sovereign movement (from 1970 to 1995) was comprised mostly of middle-aged, high-school educated, white men with some military background, and extreme-right, often racist values, located mostly in in rural communities west 14dexipky the Mississippi. Today, the next sovereign wave (1999 to present) might include anybody: black, white, rural, urban, Asian, Hispanic, young, old, armed, unarmed, male, female, conservative, liberal, semi-literate, college-educated, from your walk of life. For instance, dentists, chiropractors, and even police officers all seem fascinated by the movement lately.
Sovereigns are also tough to identity because there is no membership group so they can join, no charismatic leader, no organization name, no master list of adherents, with out consistency inside the schemes they promote and buy into. You can find a huge selection of sovereign legal theories being peddled in seminars, in books, and on the net, and several of these theories contradict the other.
The sovereign citizen movement is very large and is also growing fast, due to the Internet. There are approximately 300,000 people the movement, and approximately a third of the are what I would call hard-core believers – people willing to act on their beliefs as an alternative to simply move on.
As there is no guarantee in relation to officer safety, police departments do indeed should teach their front-line officers how you can identify sovereign markers and take appropriate precautions in the event a particular encounter becomes a sovereign’s “final straw.