The extremists may refuse to pay taxes, defy government environmental regulations and believe the United States went bankrupt by going off the gold standard.
Routine encounters with police can turn violent “at the drop of a hat,” said Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director in the FBI’s counterterrorism division.
The “Sovereign Citizen” movement is deeply rooted in white supremacy and conspiracy theories and they attract many from militias and the Patriot Movement according to the SPLC.
The movement is rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, are unaware of their beliefs’ origins. In the early 1980s, the sovereign citizens movement mostly attracted white supremacists and anti-Semites, mainly because sovereign theories originated in groups that saw Jews as working behind the scenes to manipulate financial institutions and control the government. Most early sovereigns, and some of those who are still on the scene, believed that being white was a prerequisite to becoming a sovereign citizen. They argued that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed citizenship to African Americans and everyone else born on U.S. soil, also made black Americans permanently subject to federal and state governments, unlike themselves.
Several members of the “Sovereign Citizen” movement have been involved in violence and terrorism, including Terry Nichols, Timothy McVeigh’s partner in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, including 19 young children. In 2010 two “Sovereign Citizens” murdered two police officers in a routine traffic stop. Joseph Stack who flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin Texas in 2010 was also a “Sovereign Citizen.”
Paul has long courted anti-government, militia and New World Order conspiracy groups. In his newsletters, he wrote the “10 Militia Commandments,” in which he gave advice to militia groups.
“Keep the group size down, Keep quiet and you’re harder to find, Leave no clues, Avoid the phone as much as possible,’ and ‘Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this post included a video from CBS’s “60 Minutes,” which contained, erroneously, a screen shot of the website of The Sovereign Society. The Sovereign Society is a publishing company that provides financial advice to consumers, and is not affiliated with the “Sovereign Citizen” movement, and has never been accused of involvement in any violent or unlawful behavior.