Sovereign citizens are a diverse group of individuals whose activities and motives vary, but whose core tenets are the typically the same. They view United States citizenship, established government, authority and institutions as illegitimate and consider themselves immune from and therefore above the law.
A number of sovereign citizens engage in fraudulent activity, using paper terrorism to achieve their agendas and commit crimes under the mistaken hope or belief that laws do not apply to them. Some plan or take part in protests against government agencies and institutions, like the ones organized by the Bundy’s in Bunkerville, Nevada and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. Some have resorted to violence, including acts of domestic terrorism when they felt their freedoms were infringed upon.
Daryl Johnson who calls himself Daryl Laray Bey is a self-proclaimed Moorish American who was arrested in Idaho for possession of marijuana. During his court appearance, which was recorded, Johnson said he did not want to retain the services of his attorney. His explanation to the judge was “Moors cannot be represented by white people.” His attorney consented to Johnson’s entreaty, telling the court that his client was asking him “to argue things that are inconsistent with the law”.
The judge allowed Johnson to represent himself, although he asked repeatedly if he would like another attorney assigned to him. Johnson continuously refused, seeming to believe that only white attorneys were available.
Johnson also believed the court was outside the jurisdiction of his own Moorish nation state. He accused the judge of trying to impose foreign policy and said he had “already alerted the International Criminal Courts and the United Nations of the fraudulent activities going on here today”. He later declared “this is an administrative venue, not a court. You’re not even a judge.”
The majority of the hearing was marked by the judge’s questions and Johnson’s continued interruptions, where he argued about things irrelevant to his case using sovereign rhetoric and questioned the court’s status and jurisdiction.
When the hearing moved into the sentencing phase, the state recommended Johnson receive four years’ probation and imposed fines of $431.
The judge asked Johnson directly if he “wished to be placed on probation” and Johnson went on another tangent instead of responding affirmatively. The judge took his response as non-consent and threw the book at him.
Citing Johnson’s inability to follow the court’s rules and guidelines and his extensive criminal history, including multiple felonies and registration as a sex offender, he said he felt Johnson would not be successful on probation and sentenced him to a minimum of one year’s incarceration and a maximum of five, as well as a $1,000 fine.
In August 2012 sovereign citizen Derrick Smith was involved in a shootout with sheriffs from St. John the Baptist’s Parish where two sheriffs were killed and two others were injured.
Smith’s family, including his father, stepmother, brother and brother’s girlfriend, as well as a family friend were all involved. It started when a sheriff tried to pull over his father, Terry Smith, earlier in the day. Terry, who did not carry a driver’s license sped away and someone in his car shot into the sheriff’s vehicle with an assault rifle hitting the deputy repeatedly.
Officers gave chase and found Terry Smith’s car parked in a nearby mobile home park. They found one suspect outside a trailer and detained him, then knocked on the trailer door. Almost immediately someone began shooting at the sheriffs, killing one where he stood and another as he ran for cover. Two more were shot, but were saved by a quick thinking officer who was able to commandeer a park resident’s vehicle, which he pulled the men inside, and out of harm’s way.
The suspects, including Derrick Smith were taken into custody. Two suspects were injured and transported to the hospital. Both survived.
The charges against one suspect, Smith’s co-worker, were dropped when officers realized she had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was getting a ride home from the family when the original traffic stop and shooting occurred, then hid in their bathroom until the firefight was over.
Smith’s father was charged with accessory to first degree murder and his brother and family friend, the shooters, were charged with first degree murder and attempted murder. His stepmother and his brother’s girlfriend were charged as accessories, but testified against the male suspects. Smith was convicted as an accessory after the fact to attempted murder and possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. The charges garnered Smith a sentence of 12 years in prison and a parole date of June 2017.
But Smith was released early, on April 1 of this year for good behavior. Families of the victims were not notified of this release and say they are worried. According to the Department of Corrections, Smith has not renounced his sovereign citizenship, and papers recently found in his jail cell contained threats to police and their families. Despite the documents, Smith still qualified for parole, which lasts until 2025 if he can follow the guidelines, including a nightly curfew that is electronically monitored and the dictate that he cannot leave the state.
On April 24, Ryan Bundy filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Nevada. As a sovereign, Bundy believes that the United States is a corporation and has listed it on his motion as “United States of America, Inc.” He is also suing Corecivic, the for-profit prison formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America, the warden for the Nevada Southern Detention Center (NSDC) where he resides, and people, it is unclear who, listed as “John and Jane Does 1 through 15.”
Bundy is accusing the defendants of violating his rights by conducting “repetitive and arbitrary Strip Search and Body Cavity Searches” of his person. He claims he was the recipient of 40 of these searches at NSDC that had no “legitimate penal objective.” He also alleges that he was thrown in “the hole” on three separate occasions for refusing to comply with the searches, and complains that it houses a broken toilet and no toilet paper. He also claims his right to adequate exercise, possession of his legal documents and access to legal and religious council were violated.
Bundy proclaims that this is a conspiracy by the Department Of Justice, CoreCivic and the United States Marshals Service for his participation in anti-government activities and asked the judge for injunctive relief, which would end the injustices he believes are being perpetrated upon him.
Since the suit’s filing, Bundy was sent back to “solitary” after ripping a contraband shirt found in his brother Ammon’s cell away from the hands of the guard who found it. Ammon was also sent to “the hole” for the infraction. There is no word on how long the brothers will remain there, but a group of supporters came to the correction center on May 3 to protest their alleged condition.
Gregory Hickman has a long history of incarceration and extremism. He was jailed for first-degree robbery in 1996 and paroled in 2007. Hickman violated his parole several times, leading to its revocation. In 2011, Hickman was back in jail and was caught with documents related to the Five Percenters.
In 2011, possession of Five Percenter materials by an inmate in a New Jersey prison was declared illegal. The group, which is also a gang in some prisons, is considered a security threat to staff or other inmates.
Fiver Percenters are an offshoot of the Nation of Islam. They believe black men are God and white men are the devil.
Hickman attempted to appeal the sanctions the correctional facility imposed on him for his offense and lost.
Since that time, Hickman has been jailed on multiple occasions, the most recent was April 9, when he was arrested for possessing a jar of PCP with the intent to distribute and resisting arrest.
After his apprehension, Hickman told police he was a sovereign citizen and his name was Gawdjson. He refused at one point to leave his holding cell and enter the courtroom until they called him by his new name. The judge eventually agreed and Hickman entered the courtroom. Soon after he began to rant about the U.S. flag in the room saying "That's the enmity flag right there. The enmity flag is a corporation flag. It's contract law. I do not want to enter into no contract with state of New Jersey under any condition or any or any circumstances. I have committed no crimes. ..."
After this pronouncement, Hickman continued to use sovereign rhetoric instead of answering the judge’s questions, and was eventually removed from the courtroom and detained until trial.
In January 2013, a home invasion led to the murder of 21-year-old Dimitri Hampton. Four men were involved in the break-in and have been charged with first degree burglary and second degree murder. Messiah Booker was the shooter and the last to stand trial, which was delayed by his refusal to show up for jury selection.
Booker claims to be a sovereign citizen, but his reason for skipping court was because he believed his kids photos were being kept from him. When the judge resolved the issue Booker appeared for the next portion of jury selection, but his lawyer has stated that “Mr. Booker’s decision to participate in his trial will be day-by-day, as it’s within his rights to not be present at any time.”
Alphonso Mobley Jr.
Last month’s Sovereign Files referenced two men, Roberto Innis and Alphonso Mobley, Jr., who planned to rob a bank or armored car after bombing a school. The planned school attack was meant to divert law enforcements attention as they carried their additional crimes.
As Mobley was preparing the bomb making materials, the same kind used by ISIS in the Paris attacks, they exploded prematurely, costing Mobley his hands.
In March, Innis was sentenced to 12 years of prison time. Two months later, on May 1, Mobley agreed to 14 years in prison as part of a plea deal.
The trial has ended for Eric Frein who murdered one state trooper and wounded another in an ambush style attack in 2014. Frein was a loner whose passion was military re-enactments. According to authorities, his attack, which took place at the State Police Barracks in Hawley, PA was planned for over two years. Frein had military gear, face paint, bombs and a book titled “Sniper Training and Employment” when he opened fire on the troopers.
There was a manhunt for Frein, who hid out for 48 days before law enforcement found and arrested him. He was indicted on 12 counts, including murder, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. In April, he was sentenced to death.
Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin responded to the sentence saying “this verdict is for each and every member of law enforcement who dons a uniform and goes out to protect us each and every day.”
For decades Winston Shrout conducted seminars on a number of topics related to sovereign citizenry. This included Shrout’s own sovereign versions of U.S. history and law, and financial schemes involving taxes, bonds, liens and promissory notes.
Shrout’s ventures earned him hundreds of thousands of dollars in income, but he went years without paying taxes. One of his machinations was to craft phony financial documents, which he claimed were valued at over $100 trillion and send them to financial institutions in an attempt to defraud them.
In 2016, Shrout’s illegal activities caught up to him. A Grand Jury in Portland, Oregon indicted him on 19 counts of making fake financial instruments and willful failure to file returns. After a trial, which concluded on April 21, 2017, Shrout was convicted and faces up to 25 years in prison for each count. His sentencing is scheduled for August 1, 2017.
On April 20, over 400 Austrian police officers participated in a nationwide raid of members of a sovereign citizens group called the Austrian Federation of States (Staatenbund Österreich). Twenty-six people were taken into custody. They are accused of a number of crimes including defrauding members, threatening public officials, including mayors and judges, and plotting to “arrest” people and try them in their own sovereign organized faux trials.
The group issues their members license plates, official documents and tells them they do not need to pay taxes or follow the laws of Austria.
The group’s leader Monika Unger, who was one of the 26 taken into custody claims there are 1,400 members, all of whom reject the Austrian Republic.
Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter has said "These so-called state rejectionists are seeing massive growth in support and in particular the readiness to commit violence is rising enormously.”
The country is trying to combat this new phenomenon and is currently looking at adopting a new law that would give them the right to prosecute groups of ten or more as an “anti-state movement.”