On February 6, the Federal Bureau of Investigation held a news conference about a growing problem faced by local police force agencies. Based on the FBI, police around the country have already been contacting the Bureau with requests for information and training in the sovereign citizen movement.
Over the next week, the web response to the Bureau’s statements ranged from confused to outraged. Conservative pundits were wringing their hands, fearing the FBI will target their Tea Party readership as enemies in the state, while liberal pundits expressed glee that the FBI now considers Tea Party supporters to be domestic terrorists.
As an example, conservative commentator Glenn Beck aired a 12-minute segment on his show a week ago where he concluded that there is not any such thing being a sovereign movement, since he’s never heard of it, and therefore government entities is applying this fictional group being a boogeyman to carry out nefarious things to Glenn Beck’s fans.
The good thing for Beck is that the overlap between his fan base and also the sovereign movement is probably minor. The not so good news for the rest of us is the fact state and local police force agencies are having a heck of time educating their officers about how best to identify and handle this very real and potentially violent group.
If you’re a member of the Tea Party movement, the perfect solution for this bad law would be to protest your opinion in DC as well as in other metropolitan areas, write angry letters to the Congressmen, and vote for politicians who are in agreement with you that this kind of law needs to be scrapped as quickly as possible.
If you’re part of the what is a sovereign citizen, your approach is a little different. You start by searching for a mix of quotes, definitions, court cases, the Bible, Internet websites, and so on that justify the best way to overlook the disliked law with no legal consequences. Be imaginative. Pull a line from the 1215 version in the Magna Carta, a definition coming from a 1913 legal dictionary, an estimate 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. Much better, find someone else online who disliked that same law and pay them $150 for any three-ring binder full of their word salad research.
Et voilà, not just have you proven that you don’t ought to obey what the law states you dislike, heck, it’s your patriotic duty to disobey it, and anyone who notifys you otherwise is just plain un-American and it is probably part of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy to make certain that Chihuahuas are slaves to the US government.
When you can pick and choose which laws to get through your special blender, you happen to be effectively putting yourself first and foremost laws.
Sovereign citizens are true believers. They generally entered the movement by buying in a scam or conspiracy theory that not only promised them a quick fix to their problems, but wrapped such solutions inside a heavy layer of revolutionary rhetoric. Once a sovereign feels the flush of excitement and self-importance that comes from acting since the David on the U.S. government’s Goliath, they know, with all their hearts and souls, their research is correct, their cause is simply, and therefore anybody who disagrees with them can be a criminal who deserves to become punished.
These sovereign citizens can also be doomed to failure; the tax collector, prosecutor, and judge supply heard these same legal theories lots of times already and understand they are bogus.
Whenever a person believes his cause is merely, yet he meets failure over and again and again, there comes a point where he has to make a decision: he is able to admit his theory is wrong and walk away, or he is able to fight dirty.
Non-violent retaliation against government employees and police force is regarded as the common response, and may take the shape of filing false liens, filing bogus Forms 1099, sending threatening correspondence, suing government employees for millions of dollars, and cyber-stalking individuals in government who disagree using the sovereign’s legal theories.
Some sovereigns plot a violent revenge, trying to inspire others in the movement to attain their breaking point sooner. For instance, after two decades of trying 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 that the meaning of insanity is repeating the same process again and again and expecting the outcome to suddenly differ. I am just finally ready 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 position; they merely lash out when they’ve failed one too many times. Some commit suicide, however for a lot of them, the last straw might be something as small as being stopped by a highway patrolman for having a busted tail light or something as huge as being evicted from the home once the bank forecloses on their property.
Because most people don’t possess any direct exposure to government apart from with local law enforcement, officers are in an especially high-risk of bearing the brunt of sovereign citizen anger.
On top, sovereigns believe some pretty outrageous things, as well as an outsider, their legal theories seem fairly silly. Up to the recent wave of violence, most law enforcement officers who encountered sovereigns found them more amusing than everything else. Following recent police shootings in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, officers now must rethink their opinion on this group.
Also, sovereign citizens don’t call themselves that. In fact, should you ask an individual if she actually is a member of the movement, she is likely to respond the “sovereign citizen” label is an oxymoron, which she is a person looking for the Truth. She may then launch right into a ten minute lecture about 18th century ideals of individual sovereignty. A non-sovereign simply answers, “No.”
Possibly the most difficult hurdle for police force is working with stereotypes. The initial 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 2nd 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 any walk of life. As an example, dentists, chiropractors, as well as police officers all seem drawn to the movement in recent times.
Sovereigns may also be challenging to identity as there is no membership group to enable them to join, no charismatic leader, no organization name, no master listing of adherents, and no consistency from the schemes they promote and purchase into. You will find countless sovereign legal theories being peddled in seminars, in books, and on the net, and most of these theories contradict the other.
The sovereign citizen movement is large and is also growing fast, thanks to the Internet. You can find an estimated 300,000 people in the movement, and approximately one third of these are what I would call hard-core believers – people ready to act on their beliefs as an alternative to simply move on.
Nevertheless there is no guarantee when it comes to officer safety, police departments do indeed need to teach their front-line officers the best way to identify sovereign markers and take appropriate precautions in the event that a particular encounter becomes a sovereign’s “final straw.