Spring 2017

A third category are sovereigns who believe that they are native American, either by tribe or by aboriginal origins, therefore exempt from state and federal jurisdictions. Federally recognized Native American tribes are exempt and some are sovereign nations with the ability to create their own laws. However, some groups take advantage without federally recognition status and produce their own license plates, driver’s licenses, and other fraudulent documents. Some will file paperwork claiming lands and property under this guise. Other groups and individuals will claim diplomatic status and assert they are not subject to United States laws because they are citizens of other countries.

A common tactic is filing paperwork with law enforcement agencies, Clerks of Court, the Judiciary, and any public entity designed to harass and intimidate. Referred to as “paper terrorism,” filings will include large amounts of paperwork, usually notarized, and cut and pasted from internet sources detailing their position, reference citations, declaration of sovereignty, claims that courts do not have jurisdiction over them, and bogus liens totaling in some cases billions of dollars. Law enforcement officers, as well as other public serv- ants have become targets of sovereign complaints to their departments and have been victims of false and bogus liens. In 2013, Governor Rick Scott signed into law 817.535 Florida Statutes, “Unlawful filing of false documents or records against real property.” This law provides protection for those in the public realm as well as increased penalties for individuals convicted of perpetrating harassment tactics. The bill passed both the House and Senate with no opposition.

It is significant to emphasize and reinforce the fact that when dealing with an individual with sovereign ideo- logies you do not know their level of commitment, the majority are not violent, but the fact is that there are those in the movement that have killed and ambushed law enforcement officers. The West Memphis Offic- ers were intentionally distracted by paperwork provided by Jerry Kane, when Joseph Kane then shot and killed both of them. The Kanes fled and eventually were shot and killed by other law enforcement officers, but not before shooting a sheriff and his chief deputy.

Law enforcement officers and public officials must have an effective plan when interacting with sovereigns. On traffic stops or other encounters, sovereigns may become argumentative, attempt to distract the officer by providing paperwork and ask officers to fill out paperwork, and will almost certainly video record the en- counter. The video will then be posted on social media for propaganda.

An effective plan includes: not getting in a verbal argument with the subject or be intimidated by their verbal rhetoric, remain calm, request back up and a supervisor to respond, and document the incident. Most im- portantly, take action if probable cause exists. Officers have allowed their actions to be dictated and influ- enced by sovereign’s behavior. In these cases, sovereigns become emboldened and the next law enforce- ment officer dealing with the subject will have a more difficult encounter. Public officials should have a simi- lar plan to include notification of law enforcement agencies.

By understanding sovereign beliefs, philosophy, and history, combined with having an effective plan, law en- forcement and public officials are better prepared to effectively handle encounters with those who adhere to different ideologies in a manner that is consistent with law and with focus on safety for all concerned. ###

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