On February 6, the government Bureau of Investigation held a news conference in regards to a growing problem faced by local law enforcement agencies. In line with the FBI, police all around the country happen to be contacting the Bureau with requests for information and training about the sovereign citizen movement.
Within the next week, the online response to the Bureau’s statements ranged from confused to outraged. Conservative pundits were wringing their hands, fearing the FBI is going to target their Tea Party readership as enemies of the state, while liberal pundits expressed glee how the FBI now considers Tea Party supporters to be domestic terrorists.
For instance, conservative commentator Glenn Beck aired a 12-minute segment on his show a week ago by which he figured that there is no such thing as being a sovereign movement, since he’s never heard of it, which government entities is utilizing this fictional group as a boogeyman in order to do nefarious what you should Glenn Beck’s fans.
The good news for Beck is the overlap between his fan base as well as the sovereign movement is probably minor. The bad news throughout us is state and local law enforcement agencies have a heck of your energy educating their officers about how exactly better to identify and cope with this very real and potentially violent group.
If you’re a member of the Tea Party movement, the perfect solution to this particular bad law is always to protest your opinion in DC and in other metropolitan areas, write angry letters in your Congressmen, and vote for politicians who accept you that this sort of law must be scrapped without delay.
If you’re a member of the sovereign citizen definition, your approach is a bit different. You start out by searching for a combination of quotes, definitions, court cases, the Bible, Internet websites, and the like that justify the best way to disregard the disliked law without the legal consequences. Be imaginative. Pull a line through the 1215 version from the Magna Carta, a definition from your 1913 legal dictionary, a quote from a founding father or two, and place it within the blender with 14dexipky official-sounding Supreme Court case excerpts you found on like-minded websites. Even better, 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 only have you ever proven that you don’t ought to obey what the law states you dislike, heck, it’s your patriotic duty to disobey it, and anybody who tells you otherwise is merely plain un-American and is also probably part of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy to ensure Chihuahuas are slaves for the US government.
When you are able pick and choose which laws to set by your special blender, you happen to be effectively putting yourself especially laws.
Sovereign citizens are true believers. They generally entered the movement by purchasing into a scam or conspiracy theory that not only promised them a simple fix for 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 since the David to the U.S. government’s Goliath, they know, with a bunch of their hearts and souls, their scientific studies are correct, that the cause is just, which anybody who disagrees along with them is a criminal who deserves to be punished.
These sovereign citizens can also be doomed to failure; the tax collector, prosecutor, and judge have got all heard the same legal theories lots of times already and understand they are bogus.
When a person believes his cause is simply, yet he meets failure over and repeatedly, there comes a point where he has to make up your mind: he could 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 considered the most common response, and may take the type 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 using the sovereign’s legal theories.
Some sovereigns plot a violent revenge, trying to inspire others inside the movement to achieve their breaking point sooner. For example, after twenty years of trying to persuade the IRS and also the Tax Court that his blender salad of legal theories was accurate, in 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 how the concept of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the end result to suddenly differ. 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 zero grand plan in place; they merely lash out when they’ve failed one lots of times. Some commit suicide, however, for many of them, the final straw could be something as small as being stopped by way of a highway patrolman to have a busted tail light or something as big as being evicted using their home as soon as the bank forecloses on the property.
As most people don’t have any direct experience of government aside from with local police force, officers tend to be at a really high-risk of bearing the brunt of sovereign citizen anger.
On the surface, sovereigns believe some pretty outrageous things, as well as to an outsider, their legal theories seem fairly silly. Until the current wave of violence, most law enforcement officers who encountered sovereigns found them more amusing than whatever else. Following recent police shootings in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, officers now have to rethink their opinion with this group.
Also, sovereign citizens don’t call themselves that. In reality, if you ask someone if she actually is a member of the movement, she will likely respond that the “sovereign citizen” label is an oxymoron, and this she actually is a person looking for the Truth. She may then launch into a ten minute lecture about 18th century ideals of individual sovereignty. A non-sovereign simply answers, “No.”
Perhaps the hardest hurdle for police force 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, another sovereign wave (1999 to present) may 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. For instance, dentists, chiropractors, as well as law enforcement officers all seem fascinated by the movement in recent years.
Sovereigns will also be difficult to identity as there is no membership group to allow them to join, no charismatic leader, no organization name, no master listing of adherents, with no consistency within 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 several of these theories contradict each other.
The sovereign citizen movement is large and it is growing fast, because of the Internet. There are actually approximately 300,000 people in the movement, and approximately one third of these are the things i would call hard-core believers – people happy to act on their own beliefs rather than simply move on.
Nevertheless there is no guarantee in terms of officer safety, police departments do indeed must teach their front-line officers the best way to identify sovereign markers and take appropriate precautions in the event a specific encounter is a sovereign’s “final straw.