Guns

Idaho "Sovereign Citizens" Spark Two-Hour SWAT Standoff For Illegal Plates

|

According to the Idaho Spokesman-Review, two members of the so-called "sovereign citizen" movement provoked a little SWAT incident August 8. The cause? Dodgy-looking plates.  

So says the Los Angeles Times:

the "sovereign citizen" movement, a group that has attracted little national media attention but which the FBI classifies as an "extremist antigovernment group." So-called sovereign citizens argue that they are not subject to local, state or federal laws, and some refuse to recognize the authority of courts or police.

Since 2000, members of the movement have killed six police officers, and clashes with law enforcement are on the rise, according to the FBI. The deadliest incident came in 2010, when a shootout with a member left four people dead, including two police officers, during what began as a routine traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark.

The two men in Idaho consented to be pulled over for cops who thought that their plates looked invalid. They did not, however, consent to exit their truck even after "surrendering." Considering that truck was also covered in stickers that specified "noncommercial private vehicle" and "no trespassing," authorities assumed that the men were sovereign citizens and were therefore most likely armed. A two-hour standoff resulted, with the two men eventually being cut out of their seat belts. 

Sovereign citizens are, according to the FBI, an extremist group. According to the the Anti-Defamation League they consist of "anti-government ideology, with some white supremacist elements."  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, they do "favor paper over guns" but they are conspiratorial and irrationally anti-government. All of this might very well be true, though all three of the aforementioned organizations are knee-deep in vested interests in portraying all anti-government types as nutty and dangerous.

Certainly they have some nonsensical views on secrets of how the government works, which go frustratingly often with anti-government spirits that a libertarian could dig. And as Brian Doherty described in December, it was a family of so-called sovereigns back in June 2011 who were the recipients of the first use of a drone to capture a suspect done by domestic law enforcement. Doherty also noted the existence of these folk in March 2009 when an accused drunk driver argued in court that he was a sovereign citizen and therefore the law did not apply to him.

Apparently many sovereigns, even if they have a reputation for clashing with cops, do recognize sheriffs as the "highest authority" so the SWAT team sent to deal with the Idaho men included one. He noted, "They were, thank goodness, nonviolent and it ended very well." 

I know nothing about these mens' views, but it seems like they're not the feared picture of sovereigns who use exactly this sort of banal traffic stop to murder cops. So, when they're this non-violent it's awfully hard to disapprove of total non-compliance with police over a charge like wonky license plants. Maybe we could all learn a thing or two, if not go full conspiracy wacko, from these sovereign citizens. And their idea to choke bureaucracy to death on its own paperwork is a compelling one.

NEXT: Jon Huntsman Sr. Wants Romney to Release Returns

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If I use the imperious “We” can I be considered an “extremist antigovernment group”?

    Because that’s how I feel some days.

    1. Hit and Run is pretty clearly an extremist group. We’ve informed the authorities about you commenters.

      1. I am sure that DHS really does see us that way, all joking aside. And I doubt anyone had to inform them, with all of their new snooping powers. I am pretty sure that most all of the words and terms on their extremists internet search list, show up here on H and R about as often as anywhere online.

        1. I think they got bored when TELLEMOFF couldn’t cajole any of us into doing crimes.

          1. Or “Terry” with his “libertarian militia”.

          2. They haven’t stopped trying, we still have derider and o3, Tony…

            1. Oh wait, those are the unhinged libbies, that one of us might cajole into going on a shooting rampage, by replying to their stupid comments with the truth…

      2. I had already reported everyone here years ago, Lucy, so you’re late to the party. Now I get a better spot in the chow line when we all get hauled in! Prisoner’s Dilemma FTW!

        1. I reported you, Epi, when I was still only lurking here, so nutta fingah!

          1. Under the spreading chestnut tree
            I sold you and you sold me

            1. +1 Victory gin

            2. +1 Victory gin

        2. Aren’t you the guy who plays violent video games?

        3. Episiarch| 8.10.12 @ 4:37PM |#

          I had already reported everyone here years ago, Lucy…

          Hit+Run is in fact NARCs all the way down. Editors, interns, readers, commentors… Lobster girl…. I think even some regional papers (like the Grand Rapids MI paper that invented that story about the Hot Dog boy) cooperate in the effort to bait libertoids from from their bunkers and reveal themselves.

          There was a real libertarian here once… just one… but he left and now we only have the agent provocateurs like you and I,,,and everyone else… and he wasn’t even worth NARC-ing out, when it came down to it…

          …his name was DONDERO

      3. I knew that’s was the reason for the registration. To get names for the mass arrests.

        1. Didn’t you get the memo? The rest of us all registered as “Mary Stack.”

          1. Oh Snap

        2. I registered as “John Steakley”.

          Poor author is going to get a real shock when SWAT shows up.

  2. …but they are conspiratorial and irrationally anti-government…

    FTFY

    1. Yes you did.

  3. A two-hour standoff resulted, with the two men eventually being cut out of their seat belts.

    No shots fired? I suspect a few officers’ wives “walked into doors” that night.

    1. As a measure to confuse police, sovereign citizens eschew ownership of dogs.

    2. Or there were random puppy shootings reported in their neighborhoods.

    3. Yep, so all of for what, a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without force?

      Wooooo. This a fantastic use of resources.

      1. Well if they didn’t then people might start thinking they could ignore the state.

  4. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center-

    Ugh.

    1. Correct.

    2. I still love their MRA write-up. The whole list was ridiculous, but one of the reasons they were a violent danger was that some refuse to get married or date.

  5. Ugh.

    You heap big racist, me thinkum.

    1. That was totally racist dude. Why you hate the red man?

      1. Because Levi Garrett is better?

  6. You know, the government is responsible for creating groups like this with their ever increasing assault on privacy and civil rights. And of course they are too stupid to see that. Just sayin, they continue to create anti-government groups, not all of them are going to be as peaceful as Libertarians.

    1. It’s a matter of being self absorbed. Statists and authoritarians always believe or (via cognitive dissonance) convince themselves that what they’re doing is right and anyone who opposes them must be wrong.

      There’s usually nothing you can do to convince them that they had anything at all to do with any resistance that springs up against them.

      I’m reasonably sure every little tinpot dictator goes to the grave believing he was right and those muckrakers and terrorists were wrong and never had a legitimate gripe with this his necessary policies.

    2. You didn’t build your anti-government extremist group. Someone else (the government) did that.

      1. Sorry if this is aggravating, but I’m having so much fun lately with this speech. It can be used for everything.

        There are a lot of angry, anti-government Americans who agree with me — because they want to change things. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve created an anti-government group, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own.

        I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so fed up. There are a lot of fed up people out there. It must be because I hated the government more than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of people our there who hate government.

        If you created an anti-government group, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was an entrenched, intractable bureaucracy somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this (at times) unbelievably oppressive and inflexible American system that we have that inspired you to create an anti-government group. Somebody invested in roads and bridges, like the ones where the police hide and wait for people doing 5 miles an hour over the limit. If you’ve got an anti-government group — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that anti-government groups could promote and recruit on the Internet.

  7. C’mon. The sovereign citizen movement grew out of the far-right nutbar movement of survivalists, dominionist christians, common-law courts, etc. They’ve one hand on reality and the other holding a bible and a gun to battle ZOG.

    1. Yeah, but some part of me just thinks making the police cut you out of your seatbelt is awesome. I cannot deny this.

      1. They’re nutty as fruitbats, but they’re willing to die rather than comply with bullshit laws. It’s very admirable. And it’s working. I was reading a thread on Policeone where most of the cops said that they wouldn’t pull over a known sovereign citizen for anything short of a violent crime.

        1. There is great power in assholery.
          Use it carefully, grasshopper.

          1. There’s nothing assholeish about not submitting to authority for the sake of submitting to authority.

    2. So you’re saying they cling to guns and religion? These are the people Obama warned us about during the ’08 election!

    3. That reminds me: Where’s the UnderZOG? Do I need to fear?

  8. Who was the Indian in Dead Man? That guy was totally awesome.

    “Stupid fucking white man.”

    1. Because IMDB is confusing

      http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001200/

      he has a rock band. In canada.

  9. Good! Its about time the SHeeple started to “stand up” and fight for what is right! Peopel will one day realize that its gonna take a LOT more than some silly protest to get anything done!

    http://www.in-privacy.tk

  10. sovereign citizens can be “interesting”.

    i dealt with them a LOT in hawaii (sovereign kanaka maoli). never had a single problem with any sovereign citizen movement member.

    treat other people with respect and they treat you with respect (usually).

    the ones here in pac NW are a little more of a pain in the okole. a fair # of hardcore white supremacist violent tweaker fucksticks mixed in with some just plain good people who don’t recognize govt. authoritah.

    i saw sovereign license plates a LOT in hawaii, but have yet to see them here in WA, unless one counts the “legal sovereign” license plates used by recognized tribes. i’ve done a fair # of shifts working on an indian reservation (mutual aid), and you have a few sovereigns there.

    but again, never had a problem – treat others with respect USUALLY works

  11. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, they do “favor paper over guns” but they are conspiratorial and irrationally anti-government.

    Dear lord, these people could prove to be as dangerous as other resistant-to-government, ‘outsider groups in America, like the Shakers, Quakers and Mormons.

    1. hey, i went to a quaker school

      we’re dangerous as fuck

      radical consensus pacifists!

    2. oh btw, ACTUAL mormon are not resistant to govt.

      they are about the most law abiding demographic in the country

      some ‘fringe’ outlaw mormon groups, who are NOT considered actual mormons by the LDS church are resistant-to-govt., but again – they are ‘outlaw’ groups claiming to be mormons

      1. Your lack of familiarity with the historical mormon menace is appalling

        Sure, they don’t drink or curse and say yes, please and thank you…but you never know when they’ll go to war with the government again…

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_War

        1. im not sure if you are being sarcastic, but i think that’s ancient history and that the mormons of today have changed substantially. let’s remember, this religion was “discovered/invented” recently. on a relative basis, that’s like bringing up some shit the christians did in 6 ad, excuse me “CE”

          1. Well, jews and arabs are still fighting about shit from a few thousand years ago, so I’m not taking the mormon anti-govenment army off the ‘terrorist watch list’ until Mitt Romney submits to waterboarding and can clarify whether or not he’s really just a mole to stage the eventual overthrow of America by really nice guys in short sleeved shirts and ties.

            re: your sarcasm meter:…. You don’t think ‘shakers quakers’ was a red flag? hmm. I think maybe people here are a little too mean to you, and you’re getting defensive.

  12. According to the the Anti-Defamation League they consist of “anti-government ideology, with some white supremacist elements.”

    We have Black “sovereign citizens” in GA. A quick search shows they are all over the place. Even the SPLC seems aware, if puzzled, by them.

    1. Yes — “sovereign citizen” ideas have had a foothold, or at least a toehold, in black America for a while.

    2. Nativo Lopez adopted a sovereign citizen defense to his voter fraud charge. Which was a shame, because what he was accused of wasn’t illegal. It’s like he was in a conspiracy with Steve Cooley to railroad himself.

  13. So, what the fuck is the difference between a sovereign citizen and a principled anarchist exactly? The sovereign has a personal nuclear deterrent and a tattoo indicating his deficiency in self-restraint?

    1. So, what the fuck is the difference between a sovereign citizen and a principled anarchist exactly?

      A lot. Some of it having to do with all caps lettering on government forms and a secret bank account the government has that you’d have access to if you didn’t sign a birth certificate. Lots of stuff like that.

  14. License plates are stupid because their main purpose is surveillance and usage restriction of common right of ways. You might ask, “but what about vehicle theft?”. Just like your bike or your stereo, it is ultimately one’s own responsibility to take care of one’s shit. Cars already have manufacturer’s serial numbers on them just like all kinds of other products, but we don’t also put government identification tags on that stuff. Just the cars. If a stolen anything ever turns up, there are plenty of voluntary systems that can be used to prove that you legitimately own something.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.