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Wife of ‘Sovereign’ Who Killed Arkansas Police Officers Sues Police

By Ryan Lenz on April 21, 2011 - 2:34 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens

Since her common-law husband and his son died 11 months ago in a gunfight with police after killing two officers, Donna Lee Wray has issued angry threats, hurled epithets at reporters and accused police of a cover-up. She has even tried to charge Hatewatch millions of dollars for the use of her “copyrighted name” – a claim based on the bizarre ideology of the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement.

Now, Wray is suing the police department in West Memphis, Ark., for what she says was the “torture killings” of Jerry and Joe Kane, father and son sovereign citizens who attacked police after they were pulled over on an interstate on May 20, 2010. Sgt. Brandon Paudert and Officer Bill Evans were shot and killed in the attack that was captured in tragic detail on the officers’ dashboard camera. The Kanes were later killed in a shootout with police after being cornered in a shopping center parking lot.

Working with West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert, father of one of the slain officers, the SPLC produced a training video designed to help other law enforcement officers recognize sovereign citizens when they encounter them.

The sovereign citizens movement is a well-established part of the American radical right. Adherents typically believe they are not bound by government laws and do not have to pay taxes. Jerry Kane spent the last two years of his life giving seminars promoting the idea that many people do not have to repay mortgage loans. Many sovereigns also subscribe to so-called “redemption” theory – the completely ridiculous notion that people can escape their debts with the proper mix of court filings.

Paudert told Hatewatch that he wasn’t worried about the lawsuit, and that he wasn’t “going to take this lying down.”

“It’s a frivolous suit,” Paudert said. “It’ll go nowhere. They’ve done all the damage they could do to me by taking Brandon and Bill.”

The lawsuit isn’t Wray’s first attack on the police department. Last July, she issued a meandering press release that accused police of “massacr[ing]” the Kanes, “obliterat[ing] evidence” and engaging in a “COVER UP.” She claims the allegation that the Kanes were extremists is “ridiculous” and that they were not antigovernment. “They were all for government,” Wray wrote. “Real Government. I have evidence and proof that the West Memphis Police Department is a private company … clearly a private for profit business.”

A judge in the Middle District of Florida has shown no interest in giving weight to Wray’s claims. This week, U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara issued two orders that determined, unsurprisingly, that Wray’s lawsuit failed to state the factual basis for her claims. “Her complaint is nothing more than a nonsensical recitation of various state and federal Constitutional articles and amendments, federal statutory laws, and international treaties,” one order reads. The judge requested a simple description of Wray’s claim; otherwise, he will dismiss it on May 2.

  • Snorlax

    Typical sovereign behavior, start a shootout with the cops and then sue them for the shootout.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    These groups seem to increase in power because the right-wing noise machine, along with the groups themselves, whip people up into a frenzy when there is a Democratic administration, regardless of the fact that Clinton and Obama are two of the most right wing Democratic presidents in history, and their policies are pretty much precisely what Republicans want. I remember this very well because as a kid I used to listen to conservative talk radio and read a lot of their literature(conservatism is a condition that many people mature out of, luckily).

    When Clinton was elected, all the conservatives around me were acting as if the country was completely lost. Under Bush, they went on the defensive.

    Now obviously extremist groups from sovereign citizens, militia types, to white nationalists and what-not, don’t endorse Republicans or Bush. However, when they are on a radical streak during a Democratic victory, they experience a swell in numbers of angry, typically middle-aged white males who are so pissed off about something that they will seek refuge with anyone who will listen to them and extend sympathy.

    It’s a though process something like this:

    “Hmm…Bill and his friends sure have some crazy ideas, but I’m so pissed off at Obama for reasons I can’t properly articulate, and we agree on that.”

    Of course when Bush was elected, a lot of people who hated Clinton, who saw the 90s as a decadent, amoral era, accepted the professed Evangelical Bush. He was one of them, and there was no reason to stick to any kind of radical principle.

    Of course a declining economy, which is sure to get worse as time goes on, will create more radicals of every stripe. However, I am quite certain that under the next Republican administration, and particularly if it is an evangelical Christian(or someone who claims to bethus), there will be a steep decline in many of these groups, and the Tea Party will suddenly be enforcing a healthy respect for the president, as they did for nearly 8 years under Bush.

  • Karmen LaShaun Miller

    Why does it appear since the election of Mr.Obama, the economy created by greedy elitists who continue to sit shriveled up in a corner, we appear to be moving backwards. Groups like this were thriving at a very volatile time in the 1990s. When the economy is riding low is when these “individuals” pop up and unfortunately naive and uncaring politicians clasp on for a ride and let go when it is brought to light. As always, feigning ignorance in order to get a sound bite and continuing to play into fear. This lawsuit is an insult to all law enforcement officers. The judge needs to dismiss before May 2.