Do you hate paying taxes? Are you fighting foreclosure? Do you feel like no one should be allowed to commit violence against you and don’t always blindly follow the commands of the authorities? Do you film encounters with police or believe gold makes better currency than Federal Reserve Notes? Well you might be part of a domestic terrorism movement and not even know it.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times posted an article attempting to define a domestic terrorist movement consisting of as many as 300,000 Americans. Some are even labeled as non-violent “paper terrorists”.
Is there a more Orwellian term than “non-violent terrorist”? If you can think of one please share it in the comments below. They refer to this so-called terror group as “sovereigns, zealots who refuse to recognize government authority in virtually any form.”
When attempting to further define and identify individuals in this movement, some very broad and dangerous stereotypes appear. “Sovereigns believe U.S. currency has no value but recognize precious metals as valid currency,” wrote the LA Times, much like the US Constitution does.
“A central tenet of the sovereigns movement is that its adherents believe they owe no income taxes,” also much like the Constitution forbids. What’s more, federal and state law enforcement are being trained that anyone who disobeys their commands falls into this terrorist movement and may pose a violent threat to them.
“Sovereign citizens are more likely not to obey their commands and more likely to commit violence during a traffic stop,” said Detective Rob Finch who’s made a cottage industry of anti-sovereigns police training. “They refuse to recognize your authority, and that creates a dangerous situation,” Finch emphasized.
Even nonviolent sovereigns can cause headaches through what Finch calls “paper terrorism.” Some squat in foreclosed homes and file phony deeds claiming ownership, “paying” with photos of silver dollars.
Who knew fighting foreclosure was a form of terrorism? Paying taxes and mortgages with hand-written notes and photos is just funny, not really a threat to anyone.
However, self-described “sovereign citizen” James Turner faces “a potential maximum prison term of 164 years, a maximum potential fine of $2,350,000, and mandatory restitution” to the state for the nonviolent act of paper terrorism.
A blog for law officers, PoliceOne.com, also tries to help cops identify sovereign citizens, saying they’ll “...likely to be argumentative with police authorities…may attempt to videotape your encounter…may refuse to give you their name or documents…”
To his credit, the article’s author states that the “…Sovereign Citizen movement is not an organized civil or criminal enterprise. It’s a fractured series of loosely affiliated individuals who adhere to anti-government ideologies.”
It should be noted that the Feds and local law enforcement all received these characteristics and tactics from one original source: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC has been on a publicly-funded partisan crusade to demonize so-called right-wing or patriotic extremists.
In 2010, SPLC put together a short documentary about “sovereign citizens” and the threat they supposedly pose. To help identify potential sovereigns, they warn about certain bumper stickers and challenges to authority in a professionally produced propaganda video. Significantly, the video below has three times as many down-votes on YouTube as up-votes. Watch it below: