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July 18, 2016 3

The Washitaw Nation and Moorish Sovereign Citizens: What You Need to Know

GavinLongAfter author­i­ties iden­ti­fied Gavin Eugene Long as the man who shot and killed three police offi­cers from Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge on July 17, uncon­firmed media reports claimed that Long (who also used the name Cosmo Sete­penra) had con­nec­tions with the anti-government extrem­ist sov­er­eign cit­i­zen movement.

Sov­er­eign cit­i­zens believe that a con­spir­acy sub­verted and replaced the orig­i­nal U.S. gov­ern­ment with an ille­git­i­mate “de facto” gov­ern­ment, but that peo­ple can take steps to divorce them­selves from the ille­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment, after which its laws, taxes, reg­u­la­tions and courts have no more author­ity over them.

These rumors were soon confirmed—though it is clear that Long’s beliefs also extend far beyond the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment into other areas as well—with the Kansas City Star unearthing sov­er­eign cit­i­zen doc­u­ments filed by Long that indi­cated an affil­i­a­tion with the “Washitaw Nation,” one of many con­cepts asso­ci­ated with the so-called “Moor­ish move­ment,” or “Moor­ish sov­er­eign move­ment,” an off­shoot of the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment that com­bines long­stand­ing sov­er­eign cit­i­zen beliefs and tac­tics with some newer, pri­mar­ily Afro­cen­tric notions.

Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens emerged in the mid-1990s on the East Coast when some peo­ple began to merge sov­er­eign cit­i­zen ideas with some of the beliefs of the Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple, a reli­gious sect dat­ing back to 1913.  As sov­er­eign cit­i­zen notions attracted more Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple adher­ents, the Moor­ish sov­er­eign move­ment was born.  While still retain­ing most “tra­di­tional” sov­er­eign cit­i­zen pseudo-historical and pseudo-legal the­o­ries, Moor­ish sov­er­eigns added new ideas, includ­ing the notion that African-Americans had spe­cial rights because of a 1780s treaty with Morocco, as well as the belief that African-Americans were descended from African “Moors”—and often as well the belief that African-Americans were also a peo­ple indige­nous to the Americas.

WashitawNationBookThrough the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment grew, gen­er­at­ing a large num­ber of groups and gurus to pro­mote Moor­ish sov­er­eign ideas, it also absorbed other black sov­er­eign groups that had begun inde­pen­dently.  The most impor­tant of these was the Washitaw Nation, which began in the mid-1990s in Louisiana, started by the “Empress” Ver­diacee “Tiara” Washitaw-Turner Gos­ton El-Bey, who claimed to head the Washitaw Empire.  Washitaw Nation adher­ents claimed to be descended from the ancient mound-builders of the Mississippi-Missouri Val­ley and to actu­ally own the Louisiana Purchase.

After the “Empress” retired, the orig­i­nal Washitaw group fell apart, replaced with a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent groups and indi­vid­u­als tak­ing up the “Washitaw Nation” man­tle.  So today there is not just one “Washitaw Nation,” but many, mak­ing it one of the most impor­tant wings of the Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zen movement.

Since 2009, the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment has expe­ri­enced a major resur­gence, includ­ing among African-Americans.  Both Moor­ish and non-Moorish sov­er­eign cit­i­zen ideas have spread rapidly within the African-American com­mu­nity, aided by social media web­sites such as YouTube and Face­book.   Moor­ish and non-Moorish sov­er­eign ideas alike have also spread in pris­ons and jails across the country.

Most sov­er­eign cit­i­zens are still white, but in a num­ber of cities with large African-American pop­u­la­tions such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadel­phia and oth­ers, African-Americans now com­prise the major­ity of sov­er­eign cit­i­zens.  Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens can today be found in any area with a sub­stan­tial African-American population.

Key Attrib­utes of the Moor­ish Sov­er­eign Cit­i­zen Movement

  • Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens engage in the same crim­i­nal activ­i­ties as “tra­di­tional” sov­er­eign cit­i­zens do, includ­ing crimes of vio­lence (includ­ing against police); scams and frauds; and so-called “paper ter­ror­ism” tac­tics, which typ­i­cally involves the use of var­i­ous doc­u­ments and fil­ings to harass, intim­i­date and retal­i­ate against police offi­cers, pub­lic offi­cials, and others.
  • There is still much over­lap between the Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment and the Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple (one rea­son many Moor­ish sov­er­eigns add the words –El or –Bey to their names), but not all Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple adher­ents are sov­er­eign cit­i­zens and some vocally oppose sov­er­eign beliefs.
  • There are also African-American sov­er­eign cit­i­zens who do not adopt specif­i­cally Moor­ish sov­er­eign beliefs but only “tra­di­tional” sov­er­eign cit­i­zen notions.
  • Many Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens also pro­mote var­i­ous Afro­cen­tric “New Age” beliefs and concepts.
  • Though the Moor­ish sov­er­eign move­ment is pri­mar­ily African-American in com­po­si­tion, there are a few white peo­ple asso­ci­ated with Moor­ish groups.  More­over, Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens are not nec­es­sar­ily black sep­a­ratists nor nec­es­sar­ily con­nected with other black extrem­ist groups (though there is a small amount of overlap).
  • Like tra­di­tional sov­er­eign cit­i­zens, Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens are heav­ily reliant upon sov­er­eign “gurus,” who come up with and pro­mote the movement’s ideas and tac­tics.  Some promi­nent Moor­ish sov­er­eign gurus include Taj Tarik Bey; Abdul Ali Muham­mad Bey; Queen Val­lahra Renita EL Harre,Bey; Irv­ing “Hendo” Hen­der­son; and Washitaw Nation fig­ures Wendy Far­ica Washitaw and Fredrix “Joe” Wash­ing­ton (grand­daugh­ter and son of the “Empress” Ver­diacee), among oth­ers. Many Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens may also fol­low “tra­di­tional” sov­er­eign gurus; of these, David-Wynn Miller seems to be rather influ­en­tial among some Moor­ish sovereigns.

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June 17, 2016 2

Alleged Triple Killer had Extreme Anti-Government Views

Erick ShuteOn June 14, Penn­syl­va­nia author­i­ties caught and arrested a fugi­tive accused of hav­ing shot and killed three of his neigh­bors in West Vir­ginia the pre­vi­ous day. Erick Shute, 29, who allegedly had a long-running series of dis­putes with the neigh­bors, report­edly attacked the three (and a fourth who escaped) over a con­flict about firewood.

Shute was a minor pub­lic fig­ure as the vocal­ist for the long­stand­ing death metal band Pyrexia, with which he had report­edly been involved since child­hood. He also worked as a fire and water dam­age restorer in New Jer­sey and was involved with a vari­ety of odd busi­ness ven­tures, involv­ing crowd­sourc­ing, dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies, and multi-level mar­ket­ing, among others.

After the slay­ings, a woman who described her­self as “one of his ex girl­friends” posted on-line that “he has never been [one] for the police or gov­ern­ment.” That seems to have been a seri­ous under­state­ment. West Vir­ginia author­i­ties claimed that Shute was an adher­ent of the extreme anti-government sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment and even sug­gested that he was build­ing a com­pound on the West Vir­ginia land report­edly pur­chased by his mother and used as a week­end home by Shute. Author­i­ties have said they found stock­piles of food, weapons and ammo on the prop­erty, as well as “bunkers.”

Actu­ally, Shute’s involve­ment with anti-government extrem­ism appears to have been more exten­sive than just the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment. Rather, to vary­ing degrees, Shute iden­ti­fied with all three major wings of the anti-government “Patriot” move­ment: the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment, the tax protest move­ment, and the mili­tia move­ment. Shute was also sup­port­ive to some degree of anar­chism, which is also anti-government, though from a more left-leaning perspective.

Shute’s old­est known extrem­ist ties do relate to the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment. While liv­ing with his mother in New Jer­sey dur­ing the period 2009-11, he sub­scribed to sev­eral sov­er­eign cit­i­zen beliefs, espe­cially those reject­ing the legit­i­macy of motor vehi­cle laws. In 2011, he tried to get a local police depart­ment to sign a “peace treaty” with him that would some­how allow him not to have a license or reg­is­tra­tion. This visit led to his arrest for dri­ving a vehi­cle with no license plates as well as charges of aggra­vated assault on a police offi­cer, resist­ing arrest, and obstruc­tion. Based on a court­room video he uploaded to the Inter­net, Shute seems to have defended him­self in court—as many sov­er­eign cit­i­zens do—claiming that the judge in his case was not a judge but an “exec­u­tive admin­is­tra­tor” and that there had been no judi­cial courts in Amer­ica for cen­turies. Shute was con­victed and spent half a year in jail.

Shute also became involved to at least some degree with the tax protest move­ment, which claims that a con­spir­acy is hid­ing the “fact” that most Amer­i­cans don’t have to pay income taxes. He engaged in argu­men­ta­tive phone calls with IRS rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sent hos­tile let­ters to the IRS as late as 2015 claim­ing that he had been given no “proof” he was required to file an income tax return or that the IRS had juris­dic­tion over him. Judg­ing by some of his on-line remarks, he may not have been pay­ing income taxes for more than five years.

In recent years, how­ever, Shute seems to have iden­ti­fied most strongly with the ideas of the mili­tia move­ment. The mili­tia move­ment believes that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is col­lab­o­rat­ing with a “New World Order” glob­al­ist con­spir­acy to strip Amer­i­cans of their rights and enslave them. Sub­sidiary con­spir­acy the­o­ries ema­nat­ing from the move­ment include a belief that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to round up cit­i­zens and place them in intern­ment or con­cen­tra­tion camps; a belief that the gov­ern­ment is plot­ting to sus­pend the Con­sti­tu­tion and declare mar­tial law, per­haps on a pre­text such as a ter­ror­ist attack or pan­demic; and that the gov­ern­ment will engage in mass gun confiscations—among others.

Mili­tia move­ment adher­ents oppose this per­ceived gov­ern­ment con­spir­acy. Many, though by no means all, join para­mil­i­tary mili­tia groups. Though Shute “liked” a num­ber of mili­tia groups on his Face­book pages, he does not seem to have joined a for­mal group himself.

How­ever, Shute’s on-line state­ments clearly indi­cate an adher­ence to the movement’s ide­ol­ogy. Respond­ing to a con­spir­acy arti­cle about an employ­ment ad for a U.N. “dis­ar­ma­ment offi­cer,” Shute claimed in 2014 that any­one who took such a job “deserves to be killed” by some sort of “painful and hor­ri­fy­ing” man­ner such as being “eaten alive by dogs.” When the gov­er­nor of West Vir­ginia vetoed a per­mit­less carry firearms bill in 2015, Shute posted that “some­one needs to behead this mofo.”

In 2015, Shute expressed hap­pi­ness at the thought that police offi­cers might be among the first Amer­i­cans “to get put in intern­ment camps.” He also posted that he could not sup­port the troops “if the troops are train­ing to take you and me away into an intern­ment camp.” Like many other anti-government extrem­ists, Shute became out­raged at the mil­i­tary exer­cises held in the south­ern U.S. under the name “Oper­a­tion Jade Helm,” claim­ing that they were mar­tial law train­ing scenarios.

Shute, an avid fan of anti-government con­spir­acy web­sites such as InfoWars, believed in a wide array of stan­dard “Patriot” move­ment con­spir­acy the­o­ries, from air­planes using “chem­trails” to poi­son the Amer­i­can peo­ple to vac­ci­na­tion pro­grams being part of an agenda “to kill off mil­lions of peo­ple.” Shute even claimed to have tried to attend the 2012 Bilder­berg con­fer­ence in Chan­tilly, Vir­ginia, a mag­netic lure for con­spir­acy the­o­rists who believe that “Bilder­berg­ers” are part of an inter­na­tional conspiracy.

By 2015, it is clear that Shute had devel­oped extreme, and extremely para­noid, atti­tudes towards gov­ern­ment and law enforce­ment. In Feb­ru­ary, Shute stated that it was time “to pull the gov­ern­ment offi­cials out of their beds at night and hang them from the trees in their front yards.” Urg­ing peo­ple to “arm up,” Shute stated in March that every­body should have a gun in every room in their house and that they should even sleep with their guns, so that they would be ready to kill any police offi­cer who came through the door. “This is the time for war,” he wrote, “and if you don’t get pre­pared to fight, that’s your problem.”

In Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary 2016, Erick Shute became a sup­porter of the anti-government extrem­ists who engaged in an armed takeover of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge in Ore­gon and sub­se­quent stand­off, even lis­ten­ing to the live broad­casts by the final few occu­piers in the last hours of the stand­off, before they were arrested. After their arrest, Shute wrote that he “loved” the occu­piers and that “even though we never met, I feel so close to these peo­ple now.”

Inci­dents such as these increased the already extreme hos­til­ity that Shute felt for law enforce­ment. Respond­ing in Feb­ru­ary 2016 to a news report of one offi­cer who had killed a dog, Shute urged that the offi­cer be tor­tured and mur­dered, includ­ing being hung over a fire, whipped, teeth and nails pulled out, fin­gers cut out, among many other vio­lent and grue­some meth­ods. Indeed, so hos­tile was Shute to law enforce­ment that he may have well posed a risk to local law enforce­ment as well as to his neighbors.

Shute will be extra­dited back to West Vir­ginia to face mul­ti­ple homi­cide charges.

 

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April 13, 2016 3

Firearms Increasingly Weapon of Choice in Extremist-Related Killings

extremistkillingswithfirearms1970-2015In the pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion, the bomb is the weapon typ­i­cally asso­ci­ated with ter­ror­ists or extremists—but in the U.S. extrem­ists seem to be killing more peo­ple with firearms than with any other weapon, and that use may be increasing.

It is cer­tainly true that many of the high-profile ter­ror­ist attacks in the United States over the past cen­tury have been bomb­ings, includ­ing the 1919 anar­chist bomb­ing cam­paign, the 1963 16th Street Bap­tist Church bomb­ing, the 1995 bomb­ing of the Mur­rah Fed­eral Build­ing in Okla­homa City, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb­ing, among many oth­ers. Extrem­ist ser­ial bombers such as the Weather Under­ground, “Unabomber” Ted Kaczyn­ski, and Eric Rudolph have all got­ten their share of headlines.

How­ever, extrem­ists use a wide vari­ety of deadly imple­ments to com­mit their crimes, terrorist-related or oth­er­wise, from fists and boots to air­planes. The most com­mon tool of vio­lence seems to be the sim­ple firearm, a weapon that extrem­ists can use when com­mit­ting ter­ror­ist acts, hate crimes, assas­si­na­tions, armed rob­beries, and all man­ner of tra­di­tional crime. In the United States, firearms are easy to obtain and easy to use. Amer­i­can extrem­ists of all pos­si­ble types, from the far left to the far right, as well as reli­gious extrem­ists, have used firearms to com­mit deadly acts.

How com­mon is such firearms use in the United States? The Anti-Defamation League’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism exam­ined 890 mur­ders com­mit­ted by domes­tic extrem­ists in the United States from 1970 through 2015—both ide­o­log­i­cal and non-ideological killings by extrem­ist perpetrators—and dis­cov­ered that around 55% of these killings involved use of a firearm; all other weapons com­bined made up the other 45%.

This fig­ure sig­ni­fies both the pop­u­lar­ity of firearms among extrem­ist move­ments in the United States, espe­cially right-wing extrem­ists, as well as the fact that attacks with other types of weapons may be less likely to end in death. Attacks using knives or fists, for exam­ple, may pos­si­bly result in non-fatal injuries more often than firearms. On the other end of the scale, bomb­ings are more dif­fi­cult to carry out—with many extrem­ist bomb­ing plots detected and pre­vented by law enforce­ment from ever being executed.

When one breaks down the num­bers by decade, it appears that, after a dip in the 1980s and 1990s, firearms are becom­ing more pop­u­lar than ever as the deadly weapons of choice for Amer­i­can extrem­ists. Not only have the num­bers of domestic-extremist related killings in the U.S. increased over the past 20 years, but so too has the fre­quency of firearms as the weapons in such killings.

In the 1970s, extremists—primarily com­ing from the far left—used firearms in 61% of domes­tic extremist-related killings in the United States. Many of these inci­dents involved mem­bers of left-wing extrem­ist groups such as the Black Pan­thers and the Black Lib­er­a­tion Army attack­ing police officers.

The per­cent­age of firearms use in extremist-related killings dipped in the 1980s, to only 46%, then dropped dras­ti­cally in the 1990s, down to 20%. This lat­ter fig­ure is greatly dis­torted by the Okla­homa City bomb­ing, which itself resulted in 168 deaths, but even if the bomb­ing were left out of the cal­cu­la­tions, the new num­ber would only be 42%. There are sev­eral rea­sons that seem to account for these lower fig­ures, includ­ing the rise of white suprema­cist prison gangs com­mit­ting mur­ders behind bars and the growth of the racist skin­head sub­cul­ture in the United States, whose adher­ents often eschewed firearms for beat­ing and stab­bing attacks.

How­ever, in the 2000s, firearms once more were the deadly weapons in the major­ity of killings, with 62% of the killings between 2001 and 2010 involv­ing one or more firearms. So far in the cur­rent decade, the per­cent­ages are even higher, with 72% of the domestic-extremist related deaths from 2011 through 2015 involv­ing firearms.

What accounts for this increase? Sev­eral fac­tors seem to have played a role. One is the increased use of firearms by sev­eral extrem­ist move­ments. Racist skin­heads seem to use firearms with greater fre­quency in the 2000s than they did in ear­lier decades, while the growth of white suprema­cist prison gang activ­ity on the streets—as opposed to behind bars—has allowed their mem­bers much greater access to and use of firearms.

Even more con­cern­ing is the appar­ent grav­i­ta­tion of domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists towards firearms as a weapon of choice. In the early years of this move­ment, fol­low­ing the 2003 U.S. inva­sion of Iraq, much of the energy of those extrem­ists with vio­lent impulses were directed at elab­o­rate plots involv­ing bombs or even mil­i­tary weapons—plots typ­i­cally stopped by law enforce­ment before they could ever be car­ried out.

Since 2009, how­ever, there have been a num­ber of high-profile inci­dents in which Islamic extrem­ists have used firearms to con­duct shoot­ings (and one instance, the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, where the per­pe­tra­tors used both bombs and firearms), includ­ing shoot­ings at Ft. Hood, Texas; Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas; Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee; and San Bernardino, California.

The rise of ISIS in the past sev­eral years may have con­tributed to the increase in attempted small arms attacks; Al Qaeda gen­er­ally favored high-spectacle and sym­bolic attacks, whereas ISIS has been more prac­ti­cal, urg­ing adher­ents to com­mit any attack they think they can pull off.

Most of the Islamic-related shoot­ings were mass shoot­ings, which may be the final piece of the puz­zle. Though most extrem­ist killings con­tinue to take one vic­tim at a time, the num­ber of mul­ti­ple vic­tims in deadly extremist-related inci­dents (both ide­o­log­i­cal and non-ideological) has cer­tainly grown. Since 2001, there have been 24 domes­tic extrem­ist inci­dents in which at least three peo­ple were killed—and firearms were the weapons used in the vast major­ity of these cases, includ­ing such deadly shoot­ing sprees as the 2012 Wis­con­sin Sikh tem­ple shoot­ing and the 2015 Charleston church shooting.

The increased num­ber of mul­ti­ple vic­tim inci­dents by extrem­ists is also one of the rea­sons why the death toll has been ris­ing. From extrem­ists on the right such as white suprema­cists and anti-government extrem­ists to reli­gious extrem­ists such as domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, gun vio­lence seems more likely to increase than decrease in the com­ing months and years

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