FBI Keeps Watchful Eye on ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Extremists


The FBI has been paying closer attention to 'sovereign citizen' extremists around the country out of concerns that they will react violently when they interact with government officials, says the Associated Press. Sovereign citizens are people who reject their U.S. citizenship and don't recognize government authority, like laws and taxes. In 2009, the FBI started paying closer attention to the movement, which previously had been grouped with the militia movements in the bureau's domestic counterterrorism operations.

Many people who claim to be followers of this movement are involved in white collar crimes like tax evasion schemes and making fraudulent documents, the FBI said. Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, said that while sovereign citizen ideologies are protected by the constitution, there have been instances when extremist members have turned to violence. “The thing about generally sovereign citizen extremists is that because their ideology just intrinsically deals with the rejection, complete rejection, of the constitutional authority of the United States or any other government for that matter … that when you have an encounter with law enforcement, we have seen that has a potential to go high and right very fast,” McArthur said.

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