On February 6, the Federal Bureau of Investigation held a news conference about a growing problem faced by local law enforcement agencies. Based on the FBI, police all around the country have already been contacting the Bureau with requests for information and training on the sovereign citizen movement.
Across the next week, the internet response to the Bureau’s statements ranged from confused to outraged. Conservative pundits were wringing their hands, fearing that this FBI will almost certainly target their Tea Party readership as enemies from the state, while liberal pundits expressed glee how the FBI now considers Tea Party supporters to become domestic terrorists.
As an example, conservative commentator Glenn Beck aired a 12-minute segment on his show the other day through which he figured that there is absolutely no such thing as a sovereign movement, since he’s never heard of it, and therefore the government is employing this fictional group like a boogeyman in order to do nefarious things to Glenn Beck’s fans.
The good news for Beck is the overlap between his fan base and the sovereign movement is probably minor. The bad news for the remainder of us is the fact that state and local police force agencies are experiencing a heck of time educating their officers about how advisable to identify and handle this very real and potentially violent group.
If you’re part of the Tea Party movement, the remedy for this bad law is to protest your opinion in DC as well as in other metropolitan areas, write angry letters to your Congressmen, and vote for politicians who agree with you that such a law needs to be scrapped as quickly as possible.
If you’re a member of the what is a sovereign citizen, your approach is a little different. You start by looking for a mixture of quotes, definitions, court cases, the Bible, Internet websites, etc that justify how you can disregard the disliked law without the legal consequences. Be imaginative. Pull a line from the 1215 version from the Magna Carta, a definition coming from a 1913 legal dictionary, a quotation from your founding father or two, and put it within the blender with 14dexipky official-sounding Supreme Court case excerpts you seen on like-minded websites. Better yet, find a person else online who disliked that same law and pay them $150 to get a three-ring binder filled up with their word salad research.
Et voilà, not just have you ever proven which you don’t need to obey what the law states you dislike, heck, it’s your patriotic duty to disobey it, and anybody who informs you otherwise is merely plain un-American and is probably component of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy to make certain that Chihuahuas are slaves towards the US government.
When you can pick and choose which laws to get by your special blender, you might be effectively putting yourself above all laws.
Sovereign citizens are true believers. They generally entered the movement by buying right into a scam or conspiracy theory which 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 which comes from acting as being the David towards the U.S. government’s Goliath, they understand, with all their hearts and souls, their scientific studies are correct, that the cause is definitely, which anyone who disagrees together 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 the same legal theories a large number of times already and understand that they are bogus.
Each time a person believes his cause is simply, yet he meets failure over and repeatedly, there comes a point where he needs to decide: they can admit his theory is wrong and walk away, or he could fight dirty.
Non-violent retaliation against government employees and police force is considered the most common response, and might take the type of filing false liens, filing bogus Forms 1099, sending threatening correspondence, suing government employees for vast amounts of money, and cyber-stalking individuals in government who disagree with the sovereign’s legal theories.
Some sovereigns plot a violent revenge, looking to inspire others in the movement to achieve their breaking point sooner. By way of example, after 2 decades of attempting to persuade the internal revenue service and 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 definition of insanity is repeating a similar process repeatedly and expecting the actual end result to suddenly differ. I am finally willing 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 set up; they just lash out when they’ve failed one lots of times. Some commit suicide, however for most of them, the last straw might be something no more than being pulled over from a highway patrolman for having a busted tail light or anything as large as being evicted from the home if the bank forecloses on their own property.
Since the majority people don’t have direct exposure to government besides with local police force, officers are at a really dangerous of bearing the brunt of sovereign citizen anger.
On the outside, 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 law enforcement officers who encountered sovereigns found them more amusing than other things. 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. The truth is, when you ask somebody if she actually is a member of the movement, she will likely respond how the “sovereign citizen” label is definitely an oxymoron, and this she is somebody choosing the Truth. She may then launch into a ten minute lecture about 18th century ideals of individual sovereignty. A non-sovereign simply answers, “No.”
Possibly the toughest hurdle for law enforcement is dealing with stereotypes. The very first generation sovereign movement (from 1970 to 1995) was comprised mostly of middle-aged, high-school educated, white men with many 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 provide) might include anybody: black, white, rural, urban, Asian, Hispanic, young, old, armed, unarmed, male, female, conservative, liberal, semi-literate, college-educated, from the walk of life. For instance, dentists, chiropractors, as well as police officers all seem drawn to the movement in recent years.
Sovereigns will also be tough to identity as there is no membership group so they can join, no charismatic leader, no organization name, no master selection of adherents, without any consistency inside the schemes they promote and buy into. You will find numerous 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, thanks to the Internet. There are an estimated 300,000 people in the movement, and approximately 1 / 3 of those are things i would call hard-core believers – people willing to act on his or her beliefs instead of simply leave.
While there is no guarantee in relation to officer safety, police departments do indeed must teach their front-line officers how to identify sovereign markers and take appropriate precautions in the event that a particular encounter becomes a sovereign’s “final straw.