The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Brother of ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Who Reportedly Shot BLM Ranger Traces a Loved One’s Transformation

Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by David Neiwert on June 19, 2014 - 1:48 pm

The younger brother of Brent Douglas Cole, the far-right extremist who now faces federal assault charges after his shootout with law enforcement officers in the northern California woods, isn’t sure where and when his elder sibling slipped into the surreal universe of “sovereign citizens.” But he believes his descent into right-wing extremism happened during his long residence in the woods of Alaska.

“He’s been up living life on his own for so long that he just doesn’t see it – that there’s rules that the rest of us follow for good reason,” Marcus Cole of Woodinville, Wash., told Hatewatch. “He’s used to just taking care of himself, and doesn’t understand why anyone wants to keep him from doing as he likes.”

Brent Cole remains in the custody of the Nevada County sheriff’s office while recovering from his wounds at a medical center in Roseville, where he is listed in stable condition. The Bureau of Land Management ranger and California Highway Patrol officer who both were wounded in the confrontation on Saturday near Edwards Crossing in the Sierra Nevadas were treated and released.

Marc Cole with his brother Brent (right) near Brent's cabin in Alaska

Marc Cole with his brother Brent (at right) near Brent’s cabin in Alaska

The Cole brothers grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, the son of a nuclear engineer employed at what was then called the National Reactor Testing Station (later the Idaho Nuclear Engineering Laboratory). Brent Cole was one of the first graduates of the new Skyline High School in 1971, and promptly moved away – to the Sierra Nevadas, not far, his brother says, from the place where he got into the shootout.

Brent was married there a few years after high school, and the couple moved to Texas and had a son. They also shortly divorced, after which he moved to Alaska and took up life in the woods. He made his living through construction work. ( continue to full post… )

Chicago Sovereign Convicted for Filing False $100 Billion Liens

Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by Don Terry on June 18, 2014 - 4:12 pm

A 44-year-old anti-government “sovereign citizen” was convicted this afternoon in federal court in Chicago of filing a series of false $100 billion liens – that’s billion with a b – against some of the biggest names in the city’s federal legal community.

After deliberating for more than two hours, a jury found Cherron Phillips guilty on 10 of 12 counts of retaliation against a federal official by filing false claims, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Clearly Phillips had taken to heart and added her own twist to the sage words of Daniel Burnham, the master builder and visionary urban planner, who in the late 19th and 20th Century shaped the image of Chicago.

Burnham’s advice, “Make no little plans.”

Phillips apparent motto:  “Harass no little people.”


A sampling of antigovernment “sovereign citizen” bumper stickers

( continue to full post… )

‘Sovereign Citizen’ Wounded in California Campground Shootout with BLM Ranger, Highway Patrol Officer

Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by David Neiwert on June 17, 2014 - 4:18 pm

A self-described “sovereign citizen” camping out in the woods of northern California was arrested following an armed confrontation with two law enforcement officers this weekend. All three men were wounded in the ensuing shootout.

The shootout began, according to news reports, when a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger contacted the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and asked for backup at a wooded campground near Nevada City, a few miles west of Lake Tahoe and the Nevada border, as part of an investigation involving vehicles at the site. As the two officers headed into the brush and began approaching a remote makeshift campsite, they were confronted by 60-year-old Brent Douglas Cole.

Brent Douglas Cole

Brent Douglas Cole

Gunfire was exchanged, and Cole was hit by several rounds. The BLM ranger was wounded by a gunshot to his right shoulder, and the CHP officer suffered minor injuries. The two officers were treated and released at local hospitals; Cole remains in custody at Sutter Roseville Medical Center in Roseville, where he is listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit.

Cole, according to The Union in Nevada City, has had numerous run-ins with law enforcement, including several other weapons-related incidents. The most recent of these occurred on Jan. 26, when he was arrested by Nevada County sheriff’s deputies and charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Cole also has a history of indulging in far-right conspiracies on the Internet. At one site, he described himself as a “sovereign American Citizen attempting to thwart the obvious conspiracy and subterfuges of powers inimical to the United States.”

On his Facebook page, he has posted a number of conspiracy-related stories, including pieces describing the so-called “Bilderburger conspiracy” to control the world and various “Federal Reserve” conspiracy pieces. Likewise, his Twitter account is full of posts with a similar conspiracist bent.

After his January arrest, Cole flooded the Nevada County Court clerk with a blizzard of nonsensical, pseudo-legal filings – a typical tactic of so-called “sovereign citizens.” In one of these, Cole spelled his name in lowercase letters and called himself “a natural born, flesh and blood, living man.” ( continue to full post… )

Suspected ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Arrested for Oregon Woman’s Murder

Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by Bill Morlin on June 13, 2014 - 2:16 pm
Gary Alan Lewis

Gary Alan Lewis

A survivalist murder suspect sought in the murder of a woman whose body was found in an underground bunker-equipped home was arrested late Thursday, police in Portland, Ore., reported.

Gary Alan Lewis, who appeared in a jail booking photo to have dyed his hair red, was arrested without incident after an alert citizen tipped police, Sgt. Peter Simpson said in a news release.

The arrest occurred in the Roseway neighborhood in northeast Portland, not far from where the remains of 59-year-old Renee Suzanne Sandidge-Crowell were found on Tuesday after a four-day search of  property owned by Lewis, police said.

Lewis, who reportedly stocked his underground bunker with water and food, fearing an imminent collapse of government, was scheduled for a first appearance today in Multnomah County Superior Court.

Suspected ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Sought in Oregon Woman’s Murder

Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by Bill Morlin on June 11, 2014 - 1:20 pm
Gary Alan Lewis

Gary Alan Lewis

A man described as an antigovernment survivalist is now the subject of a nationwide manhunt after a woman’s body was found in or near an underground bunker he built at his Oregon home in anticipation of a government collapse.

Gary Alan Lewis, 61, who has served prison time for drug and burglary crimes, is now wanted for murder in the death of Renee Suzanne Sandidge-Crowell, authorities say. The 59-year-old woman rented living space in the basement of Lewis’ home — described as a fortress with the bunker, barred windows and security cameras — in northeast Portland.

There have been ongoing landlord-tenant disputes between Lewis and Sandidge-Crowell and, at one point, she accused him of poisoning her dog, according to various media reports.

Remains believed to be those of the missing woman were recovered late Tuesday after a four-day search by detectives, joined by police forensic and bomb squad technicians, the Oregonian reports in today’s editions. A police spokesman said the woman’s remains were not found in the residence or in a trailer, but wouldn’t confirm reports that they were discovered in the underground bunker.

Lewis, now considered a fugitive, hasn’t been seen since before Saturday, when police went to his home after getting a suspicious activity report. ( continue to full post… )

‘Sovereign Citizen’ Is Suspected in Georgia Courthouse Shooting

Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by David Neiwert on June 6, 2014 - 3:25 pm
Dennis Marx (Forsyth County Jail)

Dennis Marx (Forsyth County Jail)

A man described by authorities as an antigovernment “sovereign citizen” entered a courthouse in suburban Atlanta this morning armed with multiple guns and explosives and opened fire. The man was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies shortly after wounding one officer in the leg.

According to Sheriff Duane Piper, the man, Dennis Marx of Cumming, Ga., drove up to the courthouse in his SUV and emerged from the vehicle with several guns and some explosives, and reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest and a gas mask. As he approached the entrance, he threw out homemade smoke grenades that briefly covered his approach with orange smoke, as well as pepper spray grenades and homemade spike strips.

Forsyth County deputy Daniel Rush came out to confront Marx and was shot in the leg. Then, as Marx proceeded into the building, he was met with a hail of gunfire and was killed.

The wounded deputy, a 25-year veteran, was taken to a local hospital and treated. Sheriff Piper praised him, saying Rush’s actions stalled Marx long enough for SWAT team officers and other deputies to arrive in place and protect the people working inside.

“It would be a guess to think how many lives he saved had he not engaged him right there,” Piper said. “Mr. Marx’s intention was to get inside that front door and to take hostages.”

Piper said that Marx was well known as a “sovereign citizen” to deputies at the time of the attack. Marx had a long-running lawsuit against the sheriff’s office over alleged unconstitutional raids on his home, and was due in court Friday morning to face marijuana and weapons charges.

Marx apparently had been living for the past week in a motel. When deputies went to his home, they found evidence that it had been rigged to blow up when law enforcement entered. Piper told a WSB-TV reporter he was confident the place had been set up as an explosive trap. ( continue to full post… )

Memphis Politician Filed ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Papers in Attempt to Prevent Home Foreclosure

Posted in Sovereign Citizens by Bill Morlin on May 23, 2014 - 4:16 pm
Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

A candidate running for county commissioner in Memphis laid down a bold public challenge shortly before winning this month’s Democratic primary election.

“I challenge anyone to review my track record,” Eddie Jones said in the 2014 Voter Guide published by the Commercial Appeal.

Since the 55-year-old Jones walked away with four out of every 10 votes in the primary and will be unopposed in the September general election, the newspaper took him up on that challenge.

Yesterday came this bombshell: Jones was fired as a Memphis Police officer for drug use 18 years ago and recently filed extremist sovereign citizen movement papers while trying to keep a bank from foreclosing on his home.

In response, Jones told the newspaper that, yes, he had troubles years ago but his life is much different now.

Jones also claimed that despite his bogus, do-it-yourself legal filings – one of the hallmarks of the sovereign citizen movement – he is not himself part of that movement, which is a loose collection of extremists who generally believe they are above the law and do not recognize the authority of federal and state governments.

“I’m kind of glad all of this is out there,” Jones said when reporters started asking questions.

The newspaper reported that Jones was the clear winner in the May 6 Democratic primary for the District 11 seat on the Shelby County Commission, with 39.2 percent of the vote, and is expected to take office after the September general election. The next closest Democratic candidate in the primary was Claude Talford, who collected 22.3 percent of the vote.

The district is heavily Democratic and there is no Republican on the ballot. The newspaper quoted election officials as saying even a write-in candidate couldn’t beat him because, by law, any such candidate would have to have been certified 50 days before the primaries.

“Let’s get this out of the way,” Jones told the Memphis newspaper. “What happened in my past, it happened. I won’t deny that. I won’t make up any excuses for it. But that’s not a part of my life anymore.”

When the newspaper published its voter guide in April, Jones said: “In serving the community, responding to the community and listening to the community gives me the knowledge of my community. I challenge anyone to review my track record. I stand behind my campaign platform of integrity, honesty and proven leadership. My ethical behavior will warrant the trust of my constituents.”

He did not mention being fired as a police officer for drug use or his recent use of legal papers associated with sovereign citizens. ( continue to full post… )

Manhunt Continues for Drug Kingpins Claiming to be Moorish Sovereigns

Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by Don Terry on May 14, 2014 - 4:52 pm

The manhunt for three fez-wearing drug dealers, claiming to be “Moorish nationals” – the kissing cousins of the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement – continued today after the men disappeared on Monday just as a federal jury in Detroit was finding them guilty in one of the largest narcotics cases in the city’s history.

“It was a very significant drug case,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Rob Watson told Hatewatch today. “Any lead we get we’re taking seriously and following to exhaustion.”

Before they fled, the men – Earnest Proge and brothers Carlos Powell and Eric Powell – faced possible life sentences and $10 million fines.

Earnest Proge and brothers Carlos Powell and Eric Powell

Earnest Proge and brothers Carlos Powell and Eric Powell

They men were out on bond during the trial and never showed up for the reading of the verdict. Carlos Powell, according to The Detroit News, cut his ankle tether at 12:33 p.m. Monday –– 18 minutes after the verdict was read.

In February, prior to the start of the nearly two-week trial, someone wrote a letter to the court, saying that because of the men’s “Status, and Nationality” as members of the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), the Greensboro, N.C.-based group “will stand as surety against any and all claims that have been brought against them. “If there is an amount to be paid to settle this case on their behalf,” the letter continued, “please forward any and all bills to: Moorish Science Temple of America, c/o Sheik Martin El, Trustee.”

Understandably, the judge dismissed the letter as frivolous, according to The News, adding that another court filing said that the fezzes the men wore each day to court were “religious headdress that must be worn to distinction.”

So-called Moors are typically black nationalists who, like antigovernment “sovereign citizens,” deny the jurisdiction and authority of the government. For the Moors, that denial is based on the theory that they are the real sovereign natives of North America, and that the government later established by white European settlers has no right to rule them. There are numerous Moorish groups around the country. Some of the groups, including the Washington D.C.-based Moorish Science Temple of America Inc. that was founded in 1913, strenuously protest being lumped in with sovereign citizens, saying that they are, in fact, law-abiding citizens of the United States. ( continue to full post… )

Montana’s ‘Natural Man’ Defies Courts, Sets Up Another Rural ‘Patriot’ Showdown

Posted in Antigovernment, Patriot, Sovereign Citizens by David Neiwert on May 1, 2014 - 4:19 pm
Ernie Wayne terTelgte in court

Ernie Wayne terTelgte in court

Ernie Wayne terTelgte likes to style himself as a Montana mountain man, dressing in buckskins, boots and tricornered hats and sometimes bearing an old muzzle-loading musket. He likes to elaborate upon his theories about so-called sovereign citizenship in a florid 18th-century style. But it isn’t a silly nostalgia act. The Bozeman man has, in fact, been challenging Montana’s courts and legal system in the name of his extremist belief system all while adopting anachronistic clothing and calling himself the “Natural Man.”

Asked to explain why he was fishing without a license, terTeltge told a judge: “I was searching for something to put in my stomach as I am recognized to be allowed to do by universal law,” he said. “I am the living man and I have the right to forage for food when I am hungry.”

This all could be written off as the peculiar antics of another kook with convoluted legal ideas – something not unheard of in Montana – but for the fact that terTeltge has amassed supporters locally and regionally. His fight with the courts over what began as a simple fishing citation has become the latest cause célèbre among the far right in the Mountain West, including the region’s antigovernment “Patriots” and associated militias.

Some have gone so far as to begin organizing “citizen grand juries,” another tactic of the sovereign citizen movement, which purport to allow ordinary citizens to present cases to the local sheriff and sit in judgment of local government officials. Indeed, terTeltge himself has played a leading role in helping to organize these “juries” in the Bozeman area.


These activities have a long history in Montana, including the Montana Freemen of the 1990s, some of whom were from the Bozeman area and who practiced a similar kind of “sovereign citizenship” theory in promoting their illegal moneymaking schemes. Indeed, one of terTeltge’s cohorts in forming a “citizen grand jury”, a Bozeman man named Steve McNeil, was heavily involved with the Freemen and was arrested at one of their trials in Billings in 1996. Other extremists, such as neo-Nazi Karl Gharst, have used “citizen grand juries” to threaten the Montana Human Rights Network. ( continue to full post… )

‘Sovereign Citizen’ With History of Bogus Lawsuits Shot Dead by Ohio Deputies

Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by Bill Morlin on March 28, 2014 - 1:46 pm

An armed, 65-year-old, self-described “sovereign citizen” was fatally shot in the head this week during what’s being described as a gunfight with local sheriff’s deputies in a suburb of Cleveland.

Israel Rondon’s death came after a 5-year legal battle he waged in a fruitless attempt to convince various courts of his belief that government agencies and laws have no control over so-called sovereign citizens – or a freeman, as he liked to call himself.


As numerous other law enforcement encounters with activists in the United States have shown, the seemingly harmless paperwork filings favored by antigovernment sovereigns can escalate into deadly violence very quickly. Seven law enforcement officers have been killed in the United States since 2000 by members of the sovereign citizens movement, which has been deemed a “domestic terrorist” movement by the FBI.

When six deputies went to Rondon’s residence in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, on Tuesday to arrest him for probation violation, “he came after the deputies with a rifle and opened fire,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported in Thursday’s editions.

NewsChannel5 reporters noted that every corner of Rondon’s home and its foundation was spray-painted with words and numbers from U.S. code: “Title 18 1581-241 USC”.  That particular code – dealing with slavery, peonage, and forced labor – is frequently cited by sovereign citizens, who believe that such citations release them from obligations as citizens of the United States, including paying their taxes or obeying traffic codes.

A preliminary investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation found that two deputies fired shots, at least one of which struck Rondon in the head, the newspaper reported. No deputies were injured.

Like so many sovereign citizens who believe they don’t need a driver’s license to operate a vehicle, Rondon’s first encounter with the law came during a traffic stop on Sept. 9, 2009, according to the Cleveland newspaper. ( continue to full post… )