The researcher who specializes in extremist movements stressed that the sovereign citizen movement cannot be easily pigeonholed and cautioned against conflating sovereign citizens’ extremist ideologies with terrorism.
“These guys are best thought of as crooks who believe that their law breaking is sanctioned by God and mandated by America’s Founding Fathers,” the researcher said.
Paudert, however, believes a violent fringe within the sovereign citizen movement will not hesitate to resort to violence when confronted by a police officer issuing a lawful order.
“The violent fringe needs to understand that attacks on our law enforcement officers will not be tolerated,” Paudert wrote in an e-mail to Security Management. “ We will respond with the necessary force to stop any threat.”
In May 2010, Paudert’s son, West Memphis Police Sgt. Brandon Paudert, was murdered along with West Memphis Police Officer Bill Evans during a routine traffic stop of a minivan. Inside the van were two sovereign citizens, the father and son team of Jerry and Joseph Kane. During the stop, 16-year-old Joseph jumped out of passenger seat and ambushed the officers with an AK-47.
Since his retirement, Paudert has spent the last year giving two to three sovereign citizen training sessions each week to law enforcement across the United States. Besides giving law enforcement officers a primer on sovereign citizen ideology and tips on identifying sovereign citizens, Paudert trains police officers in how to conduct themselves during a traffic stop when the officer believes the driver or any passengers are sovereigns.
Paudert believes officers should have no tolerance for uncooperative sovereign citizens. If a police officer does not immediately get a suspected or self-proclaimed sovereign’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, they should strictly follow their department’s policy.
“If the policy says they go to jail because they don’t have a license, take them to jail immediately,” he said during a presentation at the Center for National Policy in November.
“But always in every single case when you know you have a sovereign, call for backup. Do not ever approach that vehicle alone, whether there’s one in there or five in there. It makes no difference. [The violent fringe] are extremely deadly.”
♦ Photo by dwightsghost/Flickr