sovereign citizen » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘sovereign citizen’
August 17, 2012 33

Possible Extremist Connection to Louisiana Police Shootings

Two Louisiana sheriff’s deputies were killed on Thurs­day in LaPlace in two sep­a­rate but related inci­dents.  One or more of the sus­pects in the killings may have ties to extremism.

Terry Lyn Smith

The first shoot­ing inci­dent occurred at a Valero cor­po­ra­tion facil­ity, when a gun­man opened fire on a St. John the Bap­tist Parish sheriff’s deputy, wound­ing him.  Deputies fol­lowed a vehi­cle to a trailer park.  How­ever, another per­son exited a nearby trailer with an assault rifle and opened fire on the offi­cers.  Two deputies were killed and another was wounded.

Seven peo­ple have been arrested in con­nec­tion with the mur­ders:  Terry Lyn Smith, 44; Brian Lyn Smith, 24; Der­rick Smith, 22; Chanel Skains, 37; Kyle David Joekel, 28; Teniecha Bright, 21; and Brit­tney Keith, 23.  All except Keith and Skains have been charged with prin­ci­pal to attempted first degree mur­der of a police offi­cer.  Keith and Skains face charges of being acces­sories after the fact to attempted first degree mur­der of a police officer.

Reports emerged in early media cov­er­age from law enforce­ment sources that one or more of the peo­ple arrested may be involved with an extrem­ist group or move­ment, includ­ing pos­si­bly the extreme anti-government sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment.   Author­i­ties in Nebraska have said that Joekel was on an FBI watch­list.  Joekel is wanted in Nebraska and Kansas on mar­i­juana charges and on alle­ga­tion of mak­ing ter­ror­is­tic threats regard­ing attack­ing law enforce­ment offi­cers.  In June 2012, while still a fugi­tive, Joekel posted his resume as a welder and pip­efit­ter to an on-line jobs site, includ­ing an address and phone num­ber.  Terry Lyn Smith is also a pipefitter.

The sus­pects had recently been under police sur­veil­lance in DeS­oto Parish after the sheriff’s office had received reports of peo­ple at a trailer park enter­ing and leav­ing vehi­cles with assault weapons.  How­ever, they left the trailer park in June.

As of this writ­ing, no infor­ma­tion has emerged to clearly con­firm the alle­ga­tions of sov­er­eign cit­i­zen con­nec­tions, but one of the sus­pects, Terry Lyn Smith, has indi­ca­tors of anti-government extrem­ist lean­ings on his var­i­ous social net­work­ing pro­files.  In par­tic­u­lar, on a Myspace pro­file Smith lists, as either “heroes” or peo­ple he’d “like to meet,” Alex Jones, the Texas-based conspiracy-oriented and anti-government radio talk show host; Randy Weaver, the white suprema­cist at the cen­ter of the 1992 Ruby Ridge, Idaho, stand­off; and David Koresh, the leader of the Branch David­i­ans dur­ing the 1993 Waco, Texas, stand­off.   Those two stand­offs were the main sparks for the resur­gence of right-wing extrem­ism in the mid-to-late 1990s, includ­ing the Okla­homa City bombing.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

April 20, 2012 0

Georgia Passes Tougher Bogus Lien Law

A new mea­sure came into force in Geor­gia this week, when Gov­er­nor Nathan Deal signed into law HB 997, mak­ing it a felony to file bogus liens against pub­lic offi­cials and law enforce­ment offi­cers. The act amends the Geor­gia code to cre­ate a new crime, that of mak­ing false lien state­ments against pub­lic offi­cers or pub­lic employ­ees, and pro­vides a pun­ish­ment of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
The bill had orig­i­nally been spon­sored by a group of Repub­li­can state rep­re­sen­ta­tives and received strong bipar­ti­san sup­port in both the Geor­gia House and Sen­ate. The aim of the bill was to help counter the grow­ing prob­lems caused by the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment, an extreme right-wing anti-government move­ment whose adher­ents believe that cur­rent gov­ern­ments are ille­git­i­mate and have no author­ity over them. Though the move­ment has existed since the 1970s, in the past few years it has expe­ri­enced a sur­pris­ing resur­gence, includ­ing a growth of vio­lent and crim­i­nal activity.

Por­tion of doc­u­ment filed by Robert Eugene Stephens
attempt­ing to copy­right his own name,
a com­mon sov­er­eign cit­i­zen tactic

Though the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment has a strong asso­ci­a­tion with vio­lence, it has an even stronger asso­ci­a­tion with what has come to be called “paper terrorism”—the use of bogus legal fil­ings or doc­u­ments or the mis­use of actual ones in order to harass, intim­i­date, or retal­i­ate against per­ceived enemies.

For 30 years, bogus liens have been one of the most pop­u­lar paper ter­ror­ism tac­tics, often used to harass police offi­cers, pros­e­cu­tors, offi­cials, and judges with whom sov­er­eign cit­i­zens come into con­tact. To give one recent Geor­gia exam­ple, in Octo­ber 2011 Geor­gia Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion agents arrested sov­er­eign cit­i­zen Robert Eugene Stephens of Min­eral Bluff on 12 crim­i­nal counts related to a series of bogus liens Stephens allegedly filed against a vari­ety of local and state offi­cials, includ­ing a county clerk, a local judge and her sec­re­tary, the county tax com­mis­sioner, and even the Speaker of the Geor­gia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives (which prob­a­bly didn’t hurt the chance the sub­se­quent law had of passing).

A num­ber of states still don’t have bogus lien laws on their books, while the laws of other states make the crime only a mis­de­meanor and some states with bogus lien laws have been lax in enforc­ing them. The result has been a flood of bogus liens across the entire coun­try in the past sev­eral years.

The Geor­gia law could still be strength­ened fur­ther, as it does not pro­tect pri­vate cit­i­zens and busi­nesses, who also can be the vic­tim of bogus liens filed by sov­er­eign cit­i­zens.

Tags: , , , , , ,

February 13, 2012 0

Triple Murder Suspect Uses Sovereign Citizen Arguments in Court Hearing

Source: Mari­copa County Sheriff’s Office
Phoenix res­i­dent Michael Lee Crane, 31, charged with the mur­ders of an elderly cou­ple from Par­adise Val­ley, Ari­zona, and a sus­pect in a third mur­der, recently used argu­ments from the anti-government extrem­ist “sov­er­eign cit­i­zen” move­ment when appear­ing in court fol­low­ing his arrest. 
On Jan­u­ary 26, 2012, after being called to a fire at a res­i­dence, Phoenix police dis­cov­ered the body of a cigar sales­man, Bruce Gaudet, who had been shot to death. Sev­eral days later, police in Par­adise Val­ley, after find­ing a burn­ing car on Jan­u­ary 30 that belonged to Lawrence and Glenna Shapiro, went to their home to dis­cover it too was on fire. They also found the burned and bound bod­ies of the elderly Shapiros, who had been shot to death.   Pre­lim­i­nary bal­lis­tic reports sug­gest a match between the bul­let cas­ings in each incident.
Crane has been charged with two counts of first-degree mur­der (he has not yet been charged in con­nec­tion with the Gaudet mur­der), two counts of kid­nap­ping, two counts of armed rob­bery, one count of bur­glary, and one count of arson. Five other peo­ple have also been charged in con­nec­tion with the case, pri­mar­ily on charges of theft or traf­fick­ing in stolen prop­erty. 
On Feb­ru­ary 10, Crane and two other defen­dants appeared in a Mari­copa County court to deter­mine their bonds. Court­room video reveals that Crane attempted to use “sov­er­eign cit­i­zen” argu­ments in his appear­ance before the mag­is­trate. The sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment is an extreme right-wing anti-government move­ment that believes that the legit­i­mate gov­ern­ment was long ago infil­trated by a con­spir­acy and changed into an ille­git­i­mate, tyran­ni­cal gov­ern­ment. Con­se­quently, sov­er­eign cit­i­zens believe that this “ille­git­i­mate” gov­ern­ment has no author­ity or juris­dic­tion over them. In the past sev­eral years, the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment has been expe­ri­enc­ing a sig­nif­i­cant resur­gence of adher­ents and activ­ity, includ­ing crim­i­nal activ­ity. 
Asked by the judge for his name, Crane spelled his entire name out, spec­i­fy­ing upper and lower case letters—sovereign cit­i­zens believe that if their name is writ­ten in all upper case let­ters, it is actu­ally not refer­ring to their “flesh and blood” per­son. Crane also declined to have an attor­ney appointed for him, which is com­mon within the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment. 
At the end of the pro­ceed­ing, the judge asked Crane if he had any ques­tions. Crane replied no, but that “I have a state­ment I’d like to make.”  He announced that he wanted to “reserve my right to Uni­form Com­mer­cial Code 1–207 and the Uni­form Com­mer­cial Code 1–103.”  Sov­er­eign cit­i­zens believe that the “con­spir­acy” replaced con­sti­tu­tional law with com­mer­cial law and that there­fore the Uni­form Com­mer­cial Code (UCC) gov­erns all legal mat­ters.  Many believe that all legal pro­ceed­ings are also com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions.  Almost all sov­er­eign cit­i­zens believe that they can avoid enter­ing into “com­merce” with the ille­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment by reserv­ing their rights under UCC 1–207 (now renum­bered to UCC1-308). 
The judge did not seem to rec­og­nize this com­mon sov­er­eign cit­i­zen ref­er­ence and merely informed Crane that the UCC did not apply.  Crane tried to get the judge to con­firm that his appear­ance was a “com­mer­cial affair,” but the judge reit­er­ated that it was actu­ally a crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ing. “Mmm, okay,” Crane replied doubt­fully. “That’s what you say.”
It is pos­si­ble that Crane, who has a past crim­i­nal his­tory, became exposed to the argu­ments of the move­ment while incar­cer­ated, as the move­ment has been spread­ing rapidly in pris­ons and jails across the coun­try over the past decade.

Tags: , , , , ,