Feds Set Sights on 'Sovereign Citizens'

Anti-government extremist movement 'has absolutely exploded'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 24, 2012 10:35 AM CST

(Newser) – "Sovereign citizens" believe local, state, and federal laws don't apply to them; some don't believe in police authority, and are willing to use force to escape it. That has resulted in the killings of six police officers since 2000, including two in a shootout in 2010 that killed four people. Now the FBI is zeroing in on what it calls an "extremist antigovernment" movement, the Los Angeles Times reports. "We are focusing our efforts because of the threat of violence," says an official.

"This is a movement that has absolutely exploded," notes a watchdog, whose group estimates about 100,000 Americans in different states are on board. An FBI supervisor is overseeing investigations of the movement, which sees the US as operating under martial law, doesn't believe in some constitutional amendments, and sees dollars as invalid since the end of the gold standard. The FBI's effort marks a shift: The agency had largely avoided scrutinizing right-wing extremist groups after criticism from Congress in 2009 prompted the dismantling of an office investigating such movements.

Vehicles with no registered license plates are parked in Ohio. A member of the Sovereign Citizens movement says he doesn't have to register them because the US has no authority over citizens.
Vehicles with no registered license plates are parked in Ohio. A member of the Sovereign Citizens movement says he doesn't have to register them because the US has no authority over citizens.   (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
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