Although their website claims not to be affiliated with the sovereign citizen movement, the NLA, and in its former incarnation as the New York Liberty Alliance (NYLA), has propagated antigovernment conspiracy theories and other radical beliefs commonly found among sovereign citizens, such as Agenda 21 (e.g. New World Order), the importance of the Constitutional Sheriff, and an impending monetary collapse, among others. The NLA is best known for its emphasis and proliferation of Common Law Grand Juries (CLGJ), a known sovereign citizen tactic. NLA members have been known to engage in acts of harassment, intimidation, and threats against government officials.
In Its Own Words
"To take political power is to control our elected representatives, by bringing them into obedience through fear of the people; this is accomplished by understanding the office of & becoming an elected committeemen, and then execute the powers.”
–National Liberty Alliance website
"To take judicial power is to control our courts by understanding jurisdiction and bringing into subjection all government officers and officials using common law courts by opening courts of record and executing 'people' authority, it's that simple!"
–National Liberty Alliance website
"If we the people can reinstate Justice and demand that elected officials and bureaucrats obey the law or be indicted, we would have then succeeded in reinstating the Constitution, and save our Republic!"
–National Liberty Alliance website
The National Liberty Alliance (NLA) is a nationwide sovereign citizen group. Although the NLA website claims the group is not affiliated with the sovereign citizen movement, many of the beliefs and actions of its members support the notion that they are sovereign citizens. According to its website, as of February 1, 2018, the NLA claims to have 6,508 total members, though there’s no evidence that their network is as large as they claim. The membership reportedly includes 1,011 grand jury administrators, 1,339 county organizers, 93 state coordinators, 112 federal district leaders, and 12 national leaders.
The NLA’s symbology includes Revolutionary War iconic imagery, such as the Liberty Bell accompanied by the Latin phrase meaning “the natural grace of God” and the Minutemen. The NLA also prominently displays biblical phrases and scripture verses throughout its materials, which purportedly support its sovereign ideology.
The NLA emerged from a predecessor group called the New York Liberty Alliance (NYLA). NYLA was founded on August 20, 2011, in Hyde Park, New York. According to its website, founding members, called the “Leadership Team,” included John Vidurek (Organizer) as well as Fran Beninati, Lynn Teger, Ava L. Ashendorff, Gerard Aprea, Emily Bowers, and Catherine Lnu, who are all listed as “Assistant Organizers.” In April 2013, citing increasing popularity and membership growth, the group changed its name to the National Liberty Alliance.
The NLA does not sanction some of the common practices associated with sovereign citizens, such as issuing/possessing bogus drivers’ licenses, failing to register vehicles and participating in tax avoidance schemes. Rather, it is best known for its propagation of common law courts, Common Law Grand Juries (CLGJ), and other beliefs and practices that are deeply rooted in the sovereign citizen movement.
Prior to the 2013 change in name, the NYLA apparently sanctioned the popular sovereign citizen practice of “redemption.” A review of the NYLA’s website (no longer active) from 2011 revealed postings, articles and a video related to the redemption scam in its Discussion Forum. For example, one posting featured an article entitled “There are two US citizens, which one are you?” This is referring to the sovereign citizen belief that there are natural born citizens (e.g. sovereign) and corporate citizens (e.g. strawmen).
John Vidurek, who posted the document in September 2011, describes it as “this document will explain exactly how the government is getting away with placing us under their jurisdiction with no constitutional rights, and how we can remove ourselves from their jurisdiction and reclaim our constitutional rights.” Vidurek also posted a YouTube video called “Meet Your Strawman” to this posting.
Another example includes posting a 171-page document called “Are you a statutory citizen or a Constitutional citizen?”
Furthermore, the NLA’s primary mission is to reestablish common law courts and CLGJs. Both of these practices are long-standing sovereign citizen ideas designed to undermine legitimate court institutions and legal procedures, harass public officials, and retaliate against federal, state and local governments. NLA also helps its members challenge Child Protective Services and family court, recommending the so-called Lentz method. Created by sovereign citizen Karl Lentz, the method argues that the court must also be a human being for its claims to be valid. For example, the Supreme Court must be a living breathing person with the name Supreme Court or no redress is necessary.
Lastly, the NLA (and the NYLA before it) has propagated antigovernment conspiracy theories and other radical beliefs commonly found among sovereign citizens, such as Agenda 21 (e.g. New World Order), the importance of the Constitutional Sheriff, misinterpretations of maritime law, statutory versus constitutional citizens (e.g. corporate citizens versus natural man), “defacto” or illegitimate federal and state governments and an impending monetary collapse.
Harassment and criminal activity
NLA members have been known to engage in acts of harassment, intimidation and threats against government officials. The NLA appears highly organized and capable of carrying out national-level letter writing and sovereign notification campaigns against the courts, public officials and law enforcement. Their membership may be trained in filing frivolous lawsuits and liens, how to issue bogus indictments and outlandish monetary demands on the government, based on a review of documents posted to the former NYLA website and current NLA website.
The NLA appears to focus its frivolous paperwork on the court system, government officials and law enforcement. The NLA has singled out United States District Courts, state and local judges and town and county councilmen for harassment, intimidation and threats. In contrast, NLA reminds law enforcement officials, specifically county sheriffs and U.S. Marshals, of their Constitutional obligations and duties as well as targets them for recruitment and support efforts.
The NLA has aligned itself with other antigovernment groups such as the Oath Keepers, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and, possibly, other sovereign citizen and militia groups. The militia is looked upon as the “enforcer” of CLGJ and its decisions.
Like most sovereign citizen groups, the NLA breeds anti-authoritarian attitude through its radical ideology which may inspire members to intimidate, threaten, and harass public officials and law enforcement officers. NLA members are also known to produce fraudulent legal documents which they use against perceived enemies — especially publically elected officials they view as corrupt. The NLA’s contempt for the law has influenced some of its members to engage in lawlessness as illustrated by the following incidents:
- On September 2, 2014, Terry G. Trussell, a member of the NLA and former Vietnam veteran, was arrested in Dixie County, Florida. Trussell was originally the foreman of a Dixie County grand jury, but became upset by the introduction of Common Core State Standards Initiative into Dixie County in what he believed was a corrupt deal. He attempted to co-opt the grand jury, expecting them to read his allegations and deliberate on them. When he was prevented from carrying through on his plan, Trussell created his own “People’s Grand Jury,” which “indicted” a number of individuals who supported or funded Common Core, and recommended the arrest and prosecution of Florida State Attorney, Jeffrey A. Siegmeister. Trussell was charged with 14 counts of impersonating court officials and criminal use of a fake legal process. In 2016, Trussell was convicted on five of those counts and sentenced to eight years and nine months in a Florida state penitentiary.
- On June 11, 2014, state troopers arrested Michael Anthony Luipersbeck, a sovereign citizen affiliated with the NLA, at his home in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, for failure to appear at a court hearing a few days earlier. Luipersbeck had previously been arrested on March 1, 2014, by the Berkeley Springs Police Department for various traffic violations, including improper display of vehicle registration and no motor vehicle inspection, as well as carrying a concealed weapon without a license.
- On February 25, 2014, John Roudybush, an NLA member, was arrested in Salina, Kansas, on several misdemeanor charges after he allegedly damaged a private access road with a front-end loader.
- On June 8, 2012, David Eugene Schied, an NLA affiliate, was arrested in Redford Township, Michigan, for refusing to disclose his name to a local judge during a court proceeding. Shied, who was known for his judicial activism, had been sitting quietly in court observing a friend’s property rights case. Schied was cited for contempt and sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Leadership structure and fundraising
The NLA’s leadership structure and organization is built from the county level up to the national level. The NLA divides the United States into four districts (West Coast, East Coast, Mid-West and West). All NLA leaders are expected to attend or listen to weekly conference calls, complete NLA-sponsored Constitutional and civics courses, attend state organizing meetings, recruit and train new members and visit the NLA website often to keep informed on new projects, organizational activities, and related information.
County organizers are the first-line supervisors within the NLA. They oversee the NLA’s work in their respective counties. They are primarily responsible for recruitment as well as organizing and staffing the CLGJ. They are encouraged to interact with the sheriff and other publicly elected officials at the local level (e.g. country and municipality level).
Grand jury administrators also work at the county level, but report to the county organizer. They are responsible for overseeing the bogus NLA legal operations (e.g. conduct hearings as well as issue decisions, judgments, indictments and arrest warrants). They preside over the CLGJ (comprised of 24 jurors). They are encouraged to work closely with the county organizer.
State coordinators oversee the efforts of the county organizers. They also assist with recruitment efforts and training. They are the mid-level managers for the NLA. They interact and pass along information from the federal district leaders down to the county-level and vice versa. They assist the federal district leaders with executing state-level meetings.
Federal district leaders are responsible for overseeing NLA’s membership within a grouping of assigned U.S. states. They are empowered to resolve any membership conflicts and ensure members are complying with NLA protocols. They also preside and carry out state meetings on a regular basis and maintain strict compliance to the NLA Leadership Agreement. If they are unable to resolve organizational issues at the county or state level, they can elevate the issue to their national coordinator.
National coordinators are responsible for overseeing the efforts of all county organizers, state coordinators and federal district leaders within their respective districts. They monitor all state functions within their district to ensure that all leaders are honoring their leadership agreements and vows. If anyone has a complaint or dispute that is not resolved at the county, state, or federal district level, the national coordinator is responsible for settling the complaint or dispute. If anyone is dissatisfied with the national coordinator’s decision, they can appeal their complaint to the “National Coordinator Committee” and a final appeal can be elevated to the founding members.
The NLA national organization also sponsors several committees which include both members and leaders. NLA leaders must participate in one or more of these committees. NLA committees include the Welcome Committee, Habeas Corpus Committee, Investigative Research Committee, Committee of Safety, Ham Committee, Liberty Group Committee and Education Committee, among others. Each committee serves as a node for facilitating information sharing, interpreting policies and directives and communicating with the membership about any new developments related to these topics.
The NLA is primarily supported through donations, memorabilia sales, legal seminars and paid advertisements. It accepts one-time and monthly donations on its website. Monthly donations range from $5 to $1,000 per month. One-time donations can range from $5 to $5,000. Donations are accepted by check, money order, PayPal or major credit cards. New members and prospective recruits appear to have paid upward of $200 for NLA processing of their intake forms and notarized affidavits related to foreclosure, tax, and other financial issues.
The NLA also earns about $50 to $125 for each referral to the jurisdictionary class sponsored by the American Justice Foundation. The entire course costs $249.
Its online store sells group memorabilia, such as clothing, mugs, hats, stickers, calendars and mousepads. They also sell business cards, Grand Jury Administrator cards and certificates of completion for Constitution and civic courses. The NLA even has group banners and yard signs for sale.
The NLA website also features advertisements for a variety of businesses marketing survival gear and prepper supplies (such as hand tools), food storage, water purification systems and questionable medical treatments such as colloidal silver. According to the announcer for the NLA’s multiple weekly conference calls, these paid advertisements generate money for the organization.