The man accused of trying to bomb a Dallas-area natural gas facility last weekend appears to be a sympathizer of the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement who for years has used the Internet to espouse hatred and suspicion of the federal government.
Anson Chi, 33, faces federal charges for possessing the homemade bomb used in the June 17 bombing in Plano, Texas. The explosion caused only minor damage to a pipeline and a regulator station but badly injured the suspect.
In 2007, Chi posted a YouTube video honoring Ed and Elaine Brown, a New Hampshire couple lionized on the radical right for their months-long standoff against U.S. marshals following years of tax evasion. Tearing up a federal income tax form, Chi professed the belief, common among sovereigns, that Americans are secretly permitted to not pay the tax.
Later that year, he paid tribute on his blog and in an Austin radio interview to another sovereign icon, Louisiana lawyer Tom Cryer. According to the Manchester, N.H., Union Leader, the lawyer had recently been acquitted on tax evasion charges after convincing a federal jury of the sincerity – but not, of course, the accuracy – of his spurious beliefs. To Chi, the acquittal was proof “that the IRS is full of shit and that people are catching on about the fact that there’s no law that requires the average American to pay an income tax.”
He remained sympathetic to Cryer at the time of the rogue attorney’s death this month, mentioning on Facebook a recent attempt to contact him.
Chi echoed the sovereigns’ conspiracy theories about not just the IRS but also “the government and the federal reserve,” believing that “everything [is] tied together, and they’re all working as one.”
Originally from New York City, Chi lived with his parents after “retiring” from what he termed “paid slavery” as a systems engineer. Calling himself an author, politician, model and activist, he had published an e-book titled “Yellow on the Inside, Shame on the Outside,“ in which he identified as a “former Asian” and renounced the “egregiously selfish and deplorable” Chinese culture of his birth.
To his neighbors, reports the Dallas-area ABC affiliate, he was “glum” and a “spooky recluse.”
Chi was no stranger to legal troubles. He was arrested for theft in San Angelo, Texas, in 1998 and convicted on concealed weapon charges in California a decade later. In 2009, he violated probation by not identifying himself to Texas police.
He appeared in a Dallas courtroom yesterday, his face and arms severely damaged by the explosion, to waive what was to have been his first hearing on the 2009 charges.