At a Louisiana mobile home park in August, two sheriff’s deputies were shot dead, two were injured, and a tangled tale of the seven people accused in connection with the shootings began to unspool, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Two were on federal domestic terrorism watch lists, linked to the growing anti-government “sovereign citizens” movement. It is less a cult than a loose collection of pariahs, united in their shared beliefs that there is little authority higher than their own, that they are not subject to laws and taxes, that Americans have been enslaved by their nation.
The Times-Picayune tells the story of the shootings. The sovereign movement is considered a descendant of the now-defunct Posse Comitatus, a violent white-supremacist, anti-Semitic group that sprouted in the 1970s. The Posse Comitatus believed that the county sheriff was the highest authority, and that the tyrannical American government long ago overthrew a utopian “common law” ideal, in which man answered only to himself, paid no taxes and followed no laws, says the Anti-Defamation League.