In the last ten years, right wing extremists have been involved in several dozen violent and terroristic plots in the United States. A number of factors have contributed to this crime wave including the economic crisis, high foreclosure rates, election of a Democratic president, increasingly violent rhetoric among politicians, pundits, and on internet forums, and, ironically, the rise of the Tea Party movement. The majority of the recent events have come from adherents of the sovereign citizen movement, a loosely knit group of approximately 300,000 people who believe that they are above all laws.
The following is an incomplete list of the most recent stories – both terrorist-related and otherwise – involving the sovereign citizen, militia, and related movements.
January, 2012: When a police officer attempted to pull over sovereign citizen James Tesi during a traffic stop, he refused, and the officer followed him to his home in Hurst, Texas. According to police reports, he then emerged with his truck with a gun and started firing at the officer. Tesi, who claims he is exempt from all laws as a member of the Moorish Temple – a black sovereign group – was wounded in the return fire, and has been released on bond pending his criminal trial. Tesi was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
December, 2011: Sovereign citizen guru David Myrland, who had been arrested and charged with threatening to kidnap and kill the mayor of Kirkland, Washington, was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
November, 2011: When sovereign citizen Mary Ann Morgan drove her pick up truck across the Canadian border from Alaska, police found an illegal weapon, pipe bomb making instructions, and a recipe for the biological weapon ricin. Morgan’s criminal trial is scheduled to take place in March, 2012.
November, 2011: Following a months-long armed standoff, farmer Rodney Brossart and his sons were taken into custody and charges with eleven felony charges, including bail jumping and terrorizing a sheriff.
November, 2011: Samuel Crump, Fred Thomas, Ray Adams, and Dan Roberts, right wing extremists ranging in age from 55 to 73, were arrested in Georgia and charged with planning a signficant terrorist attack against US officials, government buildings, and the general public. The plot involved the use of guns, bombs, and the biological weapon ricin.
November, 2011: Armed with an AK47, Idaho extremist Oscar Ortega-Hernandez drove to Washington DC to kill President Obama. He fired shots at the White House and was arrested by police. Ortega-Hernandez was indicted in January, 2012 and is awaiting his trial.
October, 2011: Sovereign citizen Darryl Tally Jr. was charged with hijacking a car at gunpoint in Little Rock, Arkansas.
October, 2011: Unable to control his impulses to harm government employees, bank robber and sovereign citizen Kyle Richards informed the court that he was too dangerous to be sent back to prison.
September, 2011: Sovereign trucker Martin Jonassen was charged with kidnapping, beating, and raping his 21 year old, homeschooled daughter. Even after his arrest, court documents show that he used the prison phone to call his wife and sons to convince them to pressure the daughter into recanting her statement to the police. Jonassen currently faces criminal trials at both the state and federal levels.
August, 2011: Sovereign Erin Crawford was accused of kidnapping her 4 year old child in North Carolina.
August, 2011: A sovereign named Laurine Arnold was charged with kidnapping her 5 year old grandson and hiding him in a Hare Krishna temple in Florida. Arnold is currently awaiting trial.
June, 2011: Militia leader David Burgert fired at two sheriff’s deputies before disappearing into the woods. Burgert remains a fugitive at this time, and is facing two counts of attempted murder in Missoula, Montana. Burgert had recently been released from prison where he had been sentenced to 8 years for attempting to assemble both the followers and the weapons to lead a revolution against the government. He had called his group Project 7, and the plan had been to murder local sheriff’s deputies, judges, and elected officials, in hopes of inciting similar groups around the country to do the same. Burgert was recently featured on “America’s Most Wanted” but remains a fugitive.
June, 2011: When a Page, Arizona officer responded to a domestic violence call, there was a scuffle, and sovereign leader Bill Fouts attempted to grab the officer’s Taser. The officer then shot and killed Fouts. Fouts was a leader in the Republic for the united States, a sovereign alternative government group.
May, 2011: Larry Wayne Kelly was charged with shooting up a Florida seafood store with an AK-47 because he was angry that they were out of crawfish. When he was apprehended, the police found a book called The Sociopath Next Door in the suspect’s car. Kelly is awaiting trial and is being held on a sizable bond.
April, 2011: Angry over a friend’s traffic court case, Florida sovereign Robert Chapman gave his friend John Ridge Emery, III a sealed envelope that was purported to contain anthrax to hand to the judge. Both men have been charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and are awaiting trial.
March, 2011: White supremacist Kevin William Harpham was arrested and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and possessing an unregistered explosive device. Harpham’s plan, according to the federal indictment, was to detonate a backpack bomb filled with shrapnel dipped in rat poison at a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Washington. In December 2011, Harpham was found guilty by a jury and was sentenced to 32 years in prison.
March, 2011: Sovereign leader Schaeffer Cox was indicted with four others for conspiring to kidnap and murder multiple State Troopers and state court officials. According to court filings, they scouted out the homes of the Troopers, and purchased grenades, machine guns, and assault rifles. They called their plot the “2 4 1” plan – kidnap two troopers or officials for every militia member arrested, and murder two for every militia member who dies in the struggle. Eight days after the state indictment, four of the defendants were also indicted in federal court, accused of conspiring to murder a federal judge, an IRS employees, and their families. While the state were later dropped, additional counts were added to the federal indictment, and the defendants are scheduled to go to trial in May, 2012.
January, 2011: Jared Loughner, whose online posts and videos display numerous sovereign markers, kills six, and injures 14 others, including his main target, a US Representative, in Tucson, Arizona.
July, 2010: Right wing extremist Byron Williams was pulled over for driving erratically by California police. He was heavily armed and wearing body armor, and engaged them in a shootout, injuring two officers before surrendering. His plan was to kill employees at two charities, thereby acting as a catalyst in what he hoped would grow into a bloody revolution.
May, 2010: 16 year old sovereign Joseph Kane shot and killed two police during a traffic stop. Young Kane and his father, Jerry, were later involved in a shootout, injuring two more officers before dying in the gunfire.
April, 2010: Court-martialed Navy officer and “birther” Walter Fitzpatrick attempted to “arrest” a grand jury foreman in Madison, Tennessee because Fitzpatrick wanted the grand jury to indict President Obama for treason over his birth certificate. Fitzpatrick was arrested again in December 2011 for trying to steal documents from a courthouse.
April, 2010: A group calling itself the Guardian of the Free Republics issued a letter to all 50 state governors demanding that they step down immediately. 1,300 sovereign citizens signed on to act as “common law grand jurors.”
April, 2010: Armed with an AK-47, Darren Wesley Huff drove from Georgia to Tennessee with plans to take over the Monroe County Courthouse. According to law enforcement, Huff was angry that the grand jury had refused to criminally indict President Obama for failing to show his long form birth certificate. Huff was convicted on 10/25/11 and is scheduled to be sentenced in February, 2012.
March, 2010: Anti-government extremist John Patrick Bedell, killed two security guards at the US Pentagon before he was killed.
March, 2010: Brody Whitaker attempted to shoot two highway patrolmen during a traffic stop in Florida. He fled the scene and was arrested a few weeks later. Update January 2012: Brody was found guilty by a Florida jury and was sentenced to life in prison.
March, 2010: Nine members of a Christian Patriot militia called the Hutaree were arrested for plotting to murder a significant number of law enforcement in Michigan. According to court documents, the plan was to murder a police officer, and then ambush and bomb the sizable police funeral. Updated February 2012: The criminal trial has begun.
February, 2010: Tax protester Joseph Stack flew his airplane into an IRS building in Texas, killing one government employee and wounding thirteen others. Stack died in the crash.
January, 2010: Tax protester/ militia leader Ed Brown was sentenced to 37 years in federal prison for engaging the US Marshals in a nine month standoff involving numerous guns, bombs, IEDs, and more than 60,000 rounds of ammunition.
June, 2009: White supremacist James Von Brunn killed a security guard inside the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Braun was shot by a second guard and died a few months later before he could be brought to trial.
May, 2009: After arguing with his wife over where his acne lotion was kept, anti-government extremist Joshua Cartwright shot and killed two police officers in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Cartwright died in the gunfire.
May, 2009: Arizona anti-government extremist Shawna Forde had a plan. She would rob suspected drug dealers, and use the money to fund a revolution against the US government. During a home invasion / robbery, Forde shot a family of three, killing the father and nine year old daughter, and wounding the mother. Forde and her accomplice, Gunny Bush, were convicted and on currently on death row, pending appeal.
May, 2009: Right wing extremist Scott Roeder shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in the doctor’s Wichita, Kansas church. Roeder was found guilty and is currently serving a life sentence.
April, 2009: When Pennsylvania extremist Richard Poplawski’s mother called police over an argument involving his dog, Poplawski grabbed his body armor and multiple guns, including an AK47, and waited to ambush the officers that answered the call. He was convicted for murdering three officers and is currently on death row, pending appeal.
April 2009: When Viola, Wisconsin deputies arrived at the home of sovereign citizen Robert Bayliss to serve an eviction notice for failure to pay property taxes, the anti-government extremist started firing at the officers. He surrendered after a violent, day-long standoff, was convicted by jury on 13 felony counts including attempted first degree murder, and was sentenced to 48 years in prison.
April, 2009: Serial bank robber and right wing extremist Richard Bauer was sentenced to four life sentences in Gassville, Arkansas for aggravated bank robbery and kidnapping. Bauer believed that robbing banks was justifiable because they were in cahoots with the IRS.
April, 2009: Sovereign citizen Andrew Stephen Gray was charged with weapons and drug violations. Twenty rifles, a machine gun, four silencers, two bulletproof vests and 9,000 rounds of ammunition were found in Gray’s storage locker. He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence.
March, 2009: A trio of prominent sovereign leaders was arrested in Las Vegas, CA. Harold Call was charged with unlawful possession of a machine gun, gurus Sam Davis and Shawn Talbot Rice were charged with money laundering. Davis plead guilty in 2011 and was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison. Harold Call received an 18 month prison sentence, and Rice was taken into custody in January 2012, after engaging in a stand-off with law enforcement.
February, 2009: Minnesota sovereign citizen Robert Beale was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for conspiring with three other sovereigns to kidnap a federal judge. Beale had earlier been convicted on tax charges, and the new prison sentence was in addition to the 134–month sentence on that case. Two of his co-defendants are currently serving 24-month sentences.
January, 2009: When anti-government extremist Ronald L. Struve failed to pay the rent on his Washington storage locker, the new owner found 37 machine guns, 2 grenade launchers, 54 high explosive grenades, 6 blocks of plastic explosives, 12 silencers, 25 feet of detonator cord, and 7 blasting caps. A search of his home turned up anti-government literature, an “End the Fed” bumper sticker, 7 machine guns, a Russian sniper rifle, and an AK-47 assault rifle. He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence in California and is scheduled to be released in July of 2012.