In August 2013 two ‘sovereign citizens’ in Las Vegas, NV planned to capture and then execute a Las Vegas police officer. The idea was to kidnap an officer at random, “try” him or her in a makeshift court packed with fellow ‘sovereign citizens’ and then kill the unfortunate law enforcement officer. Their lovely mug shots are available here.
David Allan Brutsche, 42, and Devon Campbell Newman, 67 were to be arraigned on October 8, 2013 after Brutsche tried to persuade the court that he could represent himself. Newman was to be assisted by a public defender. [LVRJ] Instead of facing a trial, Newman, who had no prior criminal record, took a plea deal. [Mail AP] Later Brutsche also accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to a felony conspiracy charge, getting a five year probation deal with orders to stay away from any connections to the Sovereign Citizens movement. He remained in jail as of April 13, 2014 because of his failure to register as a sex offender. [LVWN]
In short, Las Vegas law enforcement is all too aware of the Sovereign Citizens, and the kinds of people who become involved. They are probably not likely to see other adherents of Cliven Bundy’s philosophy as ‘boy scouts and grandmothers.’ [Heller/Roll Call]
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also aware of them, and aware of the danger they pose:
“Since 2000, lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed six law enforcement officers. In 2010, two Arkansas police officers stopped sovereign-citizen extremists Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son Joseph during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 40. Joseph Kane jumped out of the vehicle and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing both officers.” [FBI 2011]
Was Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) using hyperbole when he described the Bundy mob as “domestic terrorists? Not unless the FBI is applying hyperbole as well:
“The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing. Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons. Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations.” [FBI bulletin 9/2011] (emphasis added)
What were Cliven Bundy’s words? “His personal grievance with federal authority doesn’t stop with the BLM, though. “I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” Bundy said in a radio interview last Thursday. “I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” [Atlantic] In this instance there’s a bit of nuance in Bundy’s philosophy — he does recognize county and state government, just not the federal one. Evidently, he’s not quite the constitutionalist he’d like to be, since he missed Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution. That’s the part which begins with:
“All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers…”
As the FBI advised, these Sovereign Citizens have varying philosophies and conspiracy theories, and Mr. Bundy’s appears to be a variation on a common theme — government doesn’t have jurisdiction over my activities — in his case it’s the federal government.
And who joined him in his “protest?” The Oath Keepers were front and center. The FBI has been watching this and other groups which seek to attract members of the military and veterans, as set forth in a July 2008 report. (pdf) The level of paranoia in the Oath Keeper’s 10 Rules is clear, if not absolutely blatant. Justine Sharrock’s April 2010 article for Mother Jones should be required reading for anyone who wants an in-depth look at the Oath Keeper’s disturbing and perhaps invidious philosophy.
So, on April 12, 2014 Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) made this request to the Bundy followers:
“The dispute is over, the BLM is leaving, but emotions and tensions are still near the boiling point, and we desperately need a peaceful conclusion to this conflict,” Heller said. “I urge all the people involved to please return to your homes and allow the BLM officers to collect their equipment and depart without interference.”
Yes, and this to a group of people who believe that the government is simply waiting for a catastrophic event during which it can incarcerate citizens in concentration camps? Who will not “disarm American citizens?” Who will not obey orders to impose martial law?” Who will not assist foreign troops to keep order on American soil?
This? to Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who is going to save America from gun control? Who is an inductee in the National Rifle Association Hall of Fame? Who is a devotee of the radical philosophy of W. Cleon Skousen? W. Cleon “Pocahantas was a Communist” Skousen? [MJ]
If anyone has any doubts as to why federal agents and BLM employees thought they needed armed protection, the presence of the Oath Keepers and Richard Mack should resolve the question quickly.
The question remains, if the law enforcement community in Clark County has a heightened awareness of so-called sovereign citizens, and the FBI has been watching organizations like the Sovereignty Movement and the Oath Keepers, then WHY did Senator Heller walk directly into the morass in support of Bundy in the first place?
As noted in the previous post, he’s now back-pedaling as quickly as he can after Cliven Bundy’s outrageously racist remarks.
Bundy’s remaining public supporter is none other than Clark County’s own Assemblywoman Michele Fiore who issued this statement: ” Fiore said Bundy “has said things I don’t agree with,” but “we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it.” [The Wire]
What atrocities? Tazing a man who kicked a police dog? What harm to the land? However, what can we expect from an Assemblywoman whose Mother’s Day blog greeting included a photo of all the women-folk armed to the hilt…or the stock if you prefer? If one is known by the company kept, then Assemblywoman Fiore’s association with the likes of the Oath Keepers and Richard Mack may get her into the NRA Hall of Fame, but it won’t prevent questions about her penchant for supporting ultra-right wing radical causes.
After Cliven Bundy’s sad little tirade about “the Negro” the scales should have fallen from everyone’s eyes — the core of the issue for Mr. Bundy isn’t essentially about BLM operations, or two court orders — it’s about preserving a revised White Man’s America. An America in which all those enslaved people were ‘happy’ — ‘must be why the old Gospel song says, “And before I’d be a slave I’d be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free?” It’s a White Man’s America — out of a Hollywood western. It’s a White Man’s America that never was except in the perfervid imaginations of the seriously disturbed and the wildly radical.
Meanwhile in the real world, the BLM will revise and recalibrate its enforcement strategies, the courts may have to hear more litigation on the matter, and in the end … Mr. Bundy may be forced to follow the provisions of Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution and admit that the federal government is, in fact, due our paramount allegiance.