A 2014 survey of 175 US law enforcement agencies found that they ranked "sovereign citizens" as the top domestic terror threat, and with good reason: members of the heavily armed, white-supremacist-adjacent movement regularly kill cops during routine traffic stops and other interactions.
But Donald Trump's DHS will refocus its "countering violent extremism" (CVE) program to focus exclusively on radical Islam.
The sovereign citizen movement is part of a constellation of far-right groups that includes overt white-supremacists, militias, and other groups of "middle-aged white guys" who see "profound change and seeing that they have been left behind by the economic success of others and they want to return to a never-existent idyllic age when everyone was happy and everyone was white and everyone was self-sufficient."
The movement has been around for a long time, but it was supercharged by the waves of foreclosures as deregulated, bailed-out banks stole trillions of dollars' worth of Americans' homes in acts of overt fraud, and got away with it.
The movement is getting younger, and takes its cues from Alex Jones, a snake-oil peddler who uses conspiracy theories to sell millions' of dollars worth of nostrums like Infowars Life Silver Bullet Colloidal Silver, Infowars Life Brain Force Plus, Infowars Life Super Male Vitality, and Infowars Life Liver Shield.
In 2009, a man with white supremacist and anti-government views shot five police officers in Pittsburgh, three fatally.
In 2012, self-described sovereign citizens shot four sheriff’s deputies, two fatally, in St John the Baptist, a Louisiana parish.
In 2014, two Las Vegas police officers eating lunch were killed by a husband-and-wife pair inspired by the Patriot movement; the couple were killed by police before following through on their plan to take over a courthouse to execute public officials.
The same year, survivalist Eric Frein ambushed a Pennsylvania state police barracks, assassinating one state trooper and wounding another, then led law enforcement on a 48-day manhunt.
In 2016, a marine veteran-turned-sovereign citizen killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge and wounded three others.
They hate the US government, and they're multiplying: the terrifying rise of 'sovereign citizens' [J Oliver Conroy/The Guardian]