Posted Feb 24, 2012 03:46 pm CST
The FBI is stepping up its focus on the Sovereign Citizens movement after a shootout with a member pulled over in a traffic stop left four people dead.
The Homeland Security Department and the National Counterterrorism Center have ranked the movement as a major threat, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Adherents cite a patchwork of beliefs,” the Los Angeles Times says, “including that the U.S. is essentially under martial law, that some U.S. constitutional amendments are invalid, and that dollars have been illegitimate since the U.S. Treasury went off the gold standard during the Great Depression. Most important, some followers believe they are entitled to use armed force to resist arrest and fight police.”
Sovereign Citizens members were charged last year in an alleged plot to kill a federal judge. One member has been charged with filing false bankruptcy claims (based on an attempt to force the federal government into bankruptcy) and others are being investigated after taking up residence in foreclosed properties. Some file nuisance suits and bogus property liens.
More than 100,000 Americans have aligned themselves with the group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.