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

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… )

‘Sovereign Citizen’ Gets 20 Years for Soliciting Murder of Federal Judge

Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by Bill Morlin on March 19, 2014 - 2:48 pm

A self-described “sovereign citizen” who was awaiting trial for filing fraudulent tax returns was sentenced to 20 years in prison this week in Texas for attempting to have the federal judge in his case assassinated.

Phillip Monroe Ballard attempted to hire a hit man for $100,000 because he feared U.S. District Judge John McBryde would sentence him to prison for filing false federal income tax returns.

While in jail, the 72-year-old Ballard devised a plan, drew a map and arranged for a $5,000 down payment to have the judge shot with a high-powered rifle as he entered the federal courthouse in Fort Worth, court documents disclose. If that plan failed, Ballard wanted the judge’s car bombed, the documents allege.

The FBI got wind of the assassination plot in 2012 when a fellow inmate approached prison officials and notified them of the conspiracy. Ballard was indicted on May 15, 2013, and convicted of solicitation to commit murder by a federal jury on Dec. 11, following a two-day trial in Fort Worth.

During the trial, Ballard’s defense attorney said his client never actually intended to kill a judge, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported this week.

Ballard has been part of the growing, antigovernment sovereign movement for more than a decade, initially posing as an attorney and advising clients that federal income tax laws didn’t apply to them, court documents say. Sovereigns typically believe that most federal criminal and tax laws don’t apply to them. ( continue to full post… )

‘Sovereign Citizens’ Sentenced in Georgia for Trying to Take Possession of Homes

Posted in Antigovernment, Sovereign Citizens by Bill Morlin on March 12, 2014 - 3:45 pm

A Georgia judge didn’t mince words when he sentenced two “sovereign citizens” who illegally attempted to use frivolous court filings and squatting to take possession of homes.

Their actions “were nothing but thievery and burglary,” Cobb Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole told Susan Lorraine Weidman, 52, of Kennesaw, Ga., and co-defendant Matthew Lowery, 29, of Alpharetta, Ga., at sentencing hearings last Friday, the Marietta Daily Journal reported.

“This was no experiment,” the judge said. “You had folks breaking into houses, changing the locks and outright thieving. It was just incredulous to me that a citizen could think she could get away with this.”


Assistant District Attorney John Melvin told the court that “Weidman, as the ringleader, brought a lot of pain to a lot of people. You see a pattern of activity over several years in which Ms. Weidman refuses to get it,” the Marietta newspaper reported.

Then the judge sentenced Weidman to 20 years in prison and Lowery to 10 years. ( continue to full post… )

Cross-Country ‘Cannonball Run’ Race Promoted By Sovereign Citizen Runs Out of Gas

Posted in Antigovernment, Sovereign Citizens by David Neiwert on March 12, 2014 - 1:48 pm

It sounded too good to be true, like something from a Burt-Reynolds-meets-Duke-of-Hazzard movie: A cross-country “Cannonball Run”-style road race, sponsored by a Southern “colonel” whose wealth comes from making copper moonshine stills, with a big $50,000 prize waiting at the end. And sure enough, as with most schemes cooked up by so-called “sovereign citizens,” it fell apart upon close scrutiny.

The race – dubbed “Cannonball One,” and described as a “coast to coast race from sea to shining sea” – required an entry fee of $90, and the website promoting it used weasel language about the prize, saying participants could “potentially win up to $50,000”. The competition, scheduled for June 1, had no check points, and any kind of road vehicle, including motorcycles, would be accepted. You could buy your entry tickets through eBay.


The man promoting the race, Vaughn Wilson of Alma, Arkansas, is a self-styled “colonel” who poses for portraits in a white Col. Sanders-style suit. He appears to make most of his income from selling copper moonshine stills that he custom builds to owners’ specifications, according to the website where he markets them.

If Wilson’s scheme sounds a bit outlandish even to ordinary members of the public, it was obviously outrageous to people in the auto-racing community, especially those who had participated in a variety of cross-country races themselves over the years. This included Matt Farah, senior editor over at the auto-racing website The Smoking Tire, who knew, as he described it in his subsequent piece, that “a proper ‘Cannonball’ in the traditional sense is a coast-to-coast, underground race. No hotels. No stopping. Invite only. Low key. Tell no one. Don’t advertise it, or we’ll all go to jail. Wait a year to release your time so the statute of limitations on speeding expires first.” ( continue to full post… )

Richard Mack Moderates Libertarian-Sponsored Candidate Debate in Nevada

Posted in Antigovernment, Patriot, Sovereign Citizens by David Neiwert on February 12, 2014 - 11:08 am

506px-Richard_Mack_by_Gage_SkidmorePart of Richard Mack’s shtick has always been seeming normal. Even as he spouts far-right conspiracies about the New World Order, his suit-and-tie demeanor and slick authoritativeness give him an aura of credibility that many right-leaning audiences find compelling, if not persuasive.

Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that last weekend Mack was invited to moderate a debate in the Clark County sheriff’s race in Las Vegas, sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Nevada. And it certainly isn’t any surprise, given the fact that Mack is the leader of the far-right “constitutional sheriffs” movement, that he used that respectable-seeming podium to steer the conversation far to the right.

Mack asked a number of conspiracy-minded questions with anti-government “Patriot” movement leanings, opening with: “When government becomes venal and oppressive and out of control, can the people of Clark County count on you for peace, safety and protection?” He later asked the candidates: “Is forcing a law-abiding citizen to register their firearm unconstitutional, and will you take action to abolish the handgun registration process?”

The candidates’ answers all sturdily affirmed their opposition to such laws. One candidate, former Detective Gordon Martines, denounced the state’s gun-registration laws: “My neighbors, my friends and my family are not going to get carted off to some federal institution because of some pretend legislation. Over my dead body.”

Fortunately, for the people of Clark County, the candidates have had more grounded conversations elsewhere. At a later debate sponsored by the county’s three largest labor unions, the conversation focused on questions about sales taxes, “their leadership qualities and department morale.”

‘Sovereign’ Pleads Guilty, Expects to Spend Less Than a Year in Jail for Plot to Kidnap Police Officers

Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by Bill Morlin on February 4, 2014 - 2:47 pm

A sovereign citizen who plotted to abduct police officers in Las Vegas and execute them has pleaded guilty to his seventh felony conviction but likely will end up spending less than a year in jail.

David Allen Brutsche, a convicted sex offender from California who moved to Las Vegas to sell bottled water on the street, pleaded guilty Monday to felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping, The Associated Press reported.



Brutsche, 43, and a woman described as his roommate, 67-year-old Devon Campbell Newman, were arrested by Las Vegas police last August after a four-month undercover investigation.

Police said Brutsche, with six previous felony convictions, “was committed” to the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement, considered by the FBI to be a “domestic terrorist movement.” ( continue to full post… )

N.D. ‘Sovereign Citizen,’ Sons, Sentenced in Cattle Dispute

Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens by Bill Morlin on January 30, 2014 - 12:56 pm
Rodney Brossart

Rodney Brossart

Antigovernment extremists have always feared those elusive black helicopters. Now they can add government surveillance drones to their paranoia list.

In what’s being called the first case of its kind in the United States, a Predator drone operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection played a role in the arrest of a farmer who is an adherent of the anti-tax “sovereign citizens” movement and his three sons, all of whom were sentenced earlier this month in Lakota, N.D.

The case started on June 23, 2011, when a neighbor’s six cows wandered on to Rodney Brossart’s 3,600-acre farm in eastern North Dakota and Brossart didn’t immediately return them. Brossart, whose run-ins with the law and his neighbors are reportedly legendary in that part of North Dakota, was accused of threatening and fighting with deputies who went looking for the missing cows before arresting him. ( continue to full post… )