In a video sent to 50,000 police officers, West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert warns about the dangers of the sovereign-citizen movement, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. On May 20, Jerry Kane, an Ohio man who called himself a sovereign citizen, and his 16-year-old son, Joe, were stopped by Sgt. Brandon Paudert, Bob Paudert’s son,and officer Bill Evans in West Memphis. The teenager fired an AK-47 rifle and killed both lawmen. Two other lawmen were wounded later before the Kanes were killed by officers.
The 12-minute officer-safety video, produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, begins with Chief Paudert recounting the day, the bloodiest in Memphis-area law enforcement history. In the video, James Cavanaugh, retired ATF special agent in charge in Nashville, highlights signs that someone might be involved in the sovereign-citizen movement, including fake license plates that display the names of strange nations or tribes. Bumper stickers that say, “I am an American National” or “Not Subject to Corporate Federal or Corporate State Jurisdiction” are also indicators. Sovereign citizens may provide fake driver’s licenses or Social Security cards and may offer strange responses to routine questions, Cavanaugh said. For example, if a police officer asks the person’s name, he might say, “I am a free man, traveling upon the land.” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, estimated that 300,000 people are involved in the movement.