This is a little old, but it is pretty interesting to see the law-enforcement side. Monitoring a Sheriff’s website clued me into the fact that those little police fundraising efforts where their walk up to your vehicle’s window is just a way to look into your shit without a warrant.
Sovereign Citizens A Growing Domestic Threat to Law Enforcement By the FBI’s Counterterrorism Analysis Section
They could be dismissed as a nuisance, a loose network of individuals living in the United States who call themselves “sovereign citizens” and believe that federal, state, and local governments operate illegally. Some of their actions, although quirky, are not crimes. The offenses they do commit seem minor: They do not pay their taxes and regularly create false license plates, driver’s licenses, even currency.
However, a closer look at sovereign citizens’ more severe crimes, from financial scams to impersonating or threatening law enforcement officials, gives reason for concern. If someone challenges (e.g., a standard traffic stop for false license plates) their ideology, the behavior of these sovereign-citizen extremists quickly can escalate to violence. Since 2000, lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed six law enforcement officers. In 2010, two Arkansas police officers stopped sovereign-citizen extremists Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son Joseph during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 40. Joseph Kane jumped out of the vehicle and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing both officers.
The sovereign-citizen threat likely will grow as the nationwide movement is fueled by the Internet, the economic downturn, and seminars held across the country that spread their ideology and show people how they can tap into funds and eliminate debt through fraudulent methods. As sovereign citizens’ numbers grow, so do the chances of contact with law enforcement and, thus, the risks that incidents will end in violence. Law enforcement and judicial officials must understand the sovereign-citizen movement, be able to identify indicators, and know how to protect themselves from the group’s threatening tactics.
Ideology and Motivation
The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing. Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons. Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations. 1
One prevalent sovereign-citizen theory is the Redemption Theory, which claims the U.S. government went bankrupt when it abandoned the gold standard basis for currency in 1933 and began using citizens as collateral in trade agreements with foreign governments. 2 These beliefs can provide a gateway to illegal activity because such individuals believe the U.S. government does not act in the best interests of the American people. By announcing themselves as sovereign citizens, they are emancipated from the responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen, including paying taxes, possessing a state driver’s license, or obeying the law.
Sovereign citizens often produce documents that contain peculiar or out-of-place language. In some cases, they speak their own language or will write only in certain colors, such as in red crayon. Several indicators can help identify these individuals.
References to the Bible, The Constitution of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, or treaties with foreign governments 8
Personal names spelled in all capital letters or interspersed with colons (e.g., JOHN SMITH or Smith: John) Signatures followed by the words “under duress,” “Sovereign Living Soul” (SLS), or a copyright symbol (©) Personal seals, stamps, or thumb prints in red ink The words “accepted for value” 9
They also carry fraudulent drivers’ licenses to indicate their view that law enforcement does not have the authority to stop their vehicle or may write “No Liability Accepted” above their signature on a driver’s license to signify that they do not accept it as a legitimate identification document.