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August 23, 2013

Plot To Kidnap, Kill Police Officers Uncovered in Las Vegas

Officers from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department have arrested David Allan Brutsche, 42, and Devon Campbell Newman, 67, for allegedly plotting to kidnap and kill police officers in Las Vegas.david-allan-brutsche-sovereign-citizen

According to police, the two suspects were adherents of the sovereign citizen movement who sought to abduct a police officer while the officer made a traffic stop, then later kill him or her.    The two allegedly videotaped a police traffic stop in preparation and modified a bedroom in a vacant home to create a makeshift cell in which a kidnapped officer could be detained.  After “trying” the officer in a court of their own making, they allegedly planned to kill the officer and dispose of the body.  Both Brutche and Newman reportedly made statements in which they said they would be willing to shoot law enforcement officers.

However, Brutsche and Newman were unaware that some of the people whom they thought were accomplices were actually police officers conducting an undercover investigation.  Police have charged them with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and attempted first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon. The sovereign citizen movement is extremely anti-government in nature and adherents of the movement have been involved in a number of police killings and plots against police and government officials in recent years.

After her arrest, Newman, who for several years has been the local public relations director for the Church of Scientology in Las Vegas, gave jailhouse interviews with local television reporters in which she denied involvement in any plot to kidnap or kill officers, saying she only intended to video them.  The Scientology movement as a whole does not have any significant association with the sovereign citizen movement.

Newman told reporters that she met Brutsche while he was giving out water bottles on the Las Vegas strip in exchange for donations.  Police have, in fact, arrested Brutsche more than once for obstructive use of a public sidewalk and operating without a business license.  On a more serious note, Brutsche is a registered sex offender with felony convictions in California for indecent exposure and lascivious acts with a three-year-old child.

In October 2012, Brutsche filed a sovereign citizen “Affidavit of Status” with the Clark County Recorder’s Office in which he declared himself as “one of the people of these united [sic] States of America” and a “living, breathing sentient human being on the land” exempt from “any and all identifications, treatments, and requirements as any ARTIFICIAL PERSON pursuant to any process, law, code, regulation, ordinance, statute or any color thereof.”  In the document Brutsche also declared that “public servants” who violate their oaths of office “commit a Treason.”

Two months later, Brutsche filed a second document that seemed to anticipate future encounters with law enforcement.  The document, titled “Schedule of Fees for David Allen Brutsche,” listed fees Brutsche would apparently attempt to charge police for any interaction with him.  For example, the fee for “speaking to a cop” was “20 minutes for free” then $200 per hour.  If someone impounded his vehicle, the fee was “$2000 or 1 troy ounce of gold plus cost of recovery and any damages.”

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March 15, 2013

Police Shoot Florida Sovereign Citizen During Standoff

A four-hour standoff between police and an anti-government extremist ended with the fatal shooting of the extremist in Navarre, Florida, on March 9.  Members of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team killed Jeffery Allen Wright, 55, while attempting to serve felony arrest warrants on multiple charges related to counterfeiting.

After deputies first arrived at Wright’s home, Wright fled to the garage, then up the stairs to the second story of the garage, where he barricaded the stairwell and fired a shot from a handgun.  Refusing commands to surrender, Wright allegedly repeatedly dared police to “come and get him” and warned deputies that if they came upstairs they would “not come back down.”   The officers called the SWAT team to the scene.  Wright reportedly did not respond to the overtures of investigators and an attempt by the police to use tear gas was unsuccessful.

Later, Wright allegedly moved some of the items barricading the stairs and sat down at the top of the stairwell, holding a gun.  According to police, Wright pointed the handgun at SWAT officers at the bottom of the stairs, causing several of them to fire at Wright, killing him.  

The arrest warrants against Wright stemmed from a traffic stop incident in September 2012 when a deputy pulled Wright over for speeding.  Wright, an adherent of the anti-government sovereign citizen movement, did not believe that the government had any authority over him.  He was reportedly belligerent during the traffic stop, refusing to provide a driver’s license or get out of his vehicle.  He provided the arresting officer with an “Affidavit of Reservation of Rights,” a phony sovereign citizen document designed to warn officers that actions against them are a violation of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) .  Wright was ultimately charged with resisting an officer and obstruction of justice, and cited for not having a valid tag or vehicle registration.  He later attempted to use fraudulent money orders (a common sovereign citizen tactic) to pay the Santa Rosa County Clerk’s office for the citations he received during the traffic stop; this resulted in the counterfeiting charges.

In 2010 and again in 2012, Wright filed UCC documents  as part of a sovereign citizen tactic known as “redemption,” a complicated set of conspiracy theories that allege the government created fictitious duplicates of all American citizens to use as collateral for its international debt.  In the 2012 document, Wright uses typical sovereign citizen phraseology and symbology, such as declaring that his address is “without the U.S.” and putting brackets around the zip code (sovereign citizens have specific conspiracy theories about zip codes).

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August 23, 2012

Extremist-Related Police Killings Continue to Mount

The recent shootings in St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana, in which two officers were killed and two more injured, highlight the continuing danger domestic extremists pose to officer safety in the United States. Research by the Anti-Defamation League has found that at least one of the suspects has ideological leanings that would put him within the overarching anti-government “Patriot” movement.

The Louisiana shootings were unfortunately only the latest in a series of lethal encounters in the United States between law enforcement officers and domestic extremists.  Earlier this year, six police officers were shot, one fatally, in Ogden, Utah, after police entered a residence to execute a search warrant. Information from the search warrant affidavit strongly suggests that the suspect, David Stewart, was an anti-government extremist.  In 2010, two people associated with the sovereign citizen movement killed two East Memphis police officers and wounded two other officers in a pair of shootouts.

All in all, at least 28 officers have been killed since 2001 in encounters with extremists from one movement or another. The killings have ranged from incidents in which police officers were deliberately targeted by extremists to situations in which police officers happened to encounter extremists engaging in ideological or non-ideological criminal activity.

Overwhelmingly, the perpetrators or suspects in these lethal incidents have been right-wing extremists, adherents of one or another of the primary white supremacist movements or anti-government extremist movements active in the United States today.  This is part of a long-term trend since the 1980s, in which right-wing extremists gradually replaced left-wing extremists as the main source of extremist-related officer killings in the United States.  Though the figures here are solely for fatalities, anecdotal evidence suggests that the same trends hold for non-lethal extremist-related attacks on police officers as well.

The resurgence of right-wing extremism in the United States since 2009 has undoubtedly contributed to the level of violence:  between 2009 and 2012, eight of nine extremist-related officer deaths have been linked to right-wing extremists.

Among right-wing extremists, anti-government extremists have been the most lethal in recent years, perpetrating or suspected of having perpetrated half of the extremist-related officer deaths this century.  However, white supremacists have slain nearly as many officers in the same time period and, in a practical sense, represent virtually the same level of threat to officer safety.

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