Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yet Another 'Sovereign Citizen' Leaves His Bloody Mark On The American Landscape

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

You all remember how the Right freaked out last year over that DHS bulletin for law enforcement warning that the nation was looking at a surge in right-wing domestic terrorism -- the kind of trend that always has lethal consequences for law enforcement personnel.

They were especially freaked out over a single footnote in the bulletin:
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.
The report further detailed some of the antigovernment belief systems it was warning about, and how they would exploit the current circumstances:
Historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominent antigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impending economic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and to attract recruits during times of economic uncertainty. Conspiracy theories involving declarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps often incorporate aspects of a failed economy. Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement.
The bulletin, it turns out, could have been describing Jerry Kane.

C&L was one of the first news organizations to report that last Thursday's shootout in West Memphis, Arkansas, involved a far-right extremist named Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son Joe, acting evidently on the paranoid belief systems they had been traveling the country promoting.

Now more details are emerging about Kane. And the portrait that is emerging is one that's becoming all too familiar: Yet another "sovereign citizen" radicalized by far-right belief systems, fully convinced that the American government and its laws are illegitimate, which gives them the right to act beyond the law.

And once they move beyond the law, anything is possible. This is why we've seen so many "sovereign citizens" acting out violently now, from Scott Roeder, the killer of Dr. Tiller, to James Von Brunn, the Holocaust Museum shooter, to Jerry Kane. This is also why we're seeing so many police officers -- seven in the past year alone -- mowed down by these far-right radicals.

The first firm details came in an Associated Press report that described some of Kane's wanderings and previous brushes with the law:
Jerry Kane, who used the Internet to question federal and local government authority over him, made money holding debt-elimination seminars around the country. He had a long police record and had recently complained about being arrested at what he called a “Nazi checkpoint” near Carrizozo, N.M., where court records showed he spent three days in jail on charges of driving without a license and concealing his identity before posting a $1,500 bond.

Sheriff Gene Kelly of Clark County, Ohio, told The Associated Press on Friday that he had issued a warning to officers on July 21, 2004, saying that Mr. Kane might be dangerous to law enforcement officers. Sheriff Kelly said he had based his conclusion on a conversation the two men had had about a sentence Mr. Kane had received for some traffic violations.

Sheriff Kelly said that Mr. Kane complained in 2004 about being sentenced to six days of community service for driving with an expired license plate and no seat belt, saying that the judge had tried to “enslave” him. Mr. Kane had added that he was a “free man” and had asked for $100,000 per day in gold or silver.

“I feel that he is expecting and prepared for confrontations with any law enforcement officer that may come in contact with him,” Sheriff Kelly wrote in his warning to officers.

On an Internet radio show, Mr. Kane expressed outrage about his New Mexico arrest. “I ran into a Nazi checkpoint in the middle of New Mexico where they were demanding papers or jail,” he said. “That was the option. Either produce your papers or go to jail. So I entered into commerce with them under threat, duress and coercion, and spent 47 hours in there.”

Mr. Kane said he planned to file a counterclaim alleging kidnapping and extortion. “I already have done a background check on him,” he said of the arresting officer. “I found out where he lives, his address, his wife’s name.”
According to the the Knoxville News, Kane's seminar videos included threats against federal officials:
Jerry Kane traveled the country with his son giving seminars on what he called "mortgage fraud" and offering advice on foreclosure strategies. A website promoting those seminars provided a trove of information -- audio files and YouTube videos and links to various documents -- detailing his world views.

One particularly chilling YouTube clip involves Kane fielding a question about a "rogue" Internal Revenue Service agent: "Violence doesn't solve anything, OK. It's not violence that we're after. The Bible even tells us that if you're going to go and make war against somebody, you have to kill their sheep and their goats and their chickens and their babies and their wives. OK?"

In the YouTube video he said, "You have to kill them all. So what we're after here is not fighting, it's conquering. I don't want to have to kill anybody, but if they keep messing with me, that's what it's going to have to come out. That's what it's going to come down to, is I'm going to have to kill. And if I have to kill one, then I'm not going to be able to stop, I just know it."

In that video, he and Joe joke about using a bat to "take care of" a problem with an IRS agent.
The SPLC's Mark Potok describes the precise stripe of Patriot ideology that Kane was selling:
Redemption theory varies across the country but arose in the Patriot movement, which generally sees the federal government as an evil entity involved in various conspiracy theories aimed at ordinary Americans. In its best known version, redemption theory claims that every U.S. citizen has a "straw man," or secret legal twin, that the government uses to capture the economic value of citizens unknowingly sold into slavery to a banking cabal. Redemptionists often claim that by filing certain documents individuals can reclaim their sovereignty and the money that was deposited into a special account at their birth. Kane appeared to be teaching a variant of the theory that supposedly allowed people who have lost their homes to foreclosure to get them back at a fraction of their value.

In addition, the My Private Audio site, apparently written by a friend of Kane and his son, talks about how Kane was pulled over in New Mexico last month for not having a driver's license. Many Patriots who call themselves "sovereign citizens" do not believe they are required to carry driver's licenses, pay taxes, or obey most laws. The site also carried other signs of Patriot beliefs, including discussions of implantable microchips and the Council of Foreign Relations, an object of much Patriot conspiracy theorizing.
The New York Times has more:
In 2002 and again in 2004, property owned by the Kanes was foreclosed on, according to court records, and the health department sued him twice. In 2007, Hope Kane died of complications related to pneumonia.

By then, Mr. Kane was already involved in what the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which study hate groups, call the Patriot movement or the “sovereign citizen movement,” extreme groups that believe the government has no legitimate authority. The van Mr. Kane was driving was registered to the House of God’s Prayer at 132 W. Main Street, in New Vienna, Ohio, a vacant building that is owned by an aging white supremacist.

J. J. MacNab, an insurance analyst and expert on tax and financial frauds who has closely watched sovereignty groups for a decade, said she had found 141 vehicles registered to that address under different names, including several church names, indicating that people were probably using it as a way to shelter property from the I.R.S.


Jim Jenkins, a former mortgage broker in Seattle who attended one of Mr. Kane’s seminars in April, said that Mr. Kane had been largely congenial, but that his anger had flared when he recalled a traffic stop earlier that month in New Mexico. Mr. Kane was arrested and jailed on charges of driving while his license was suspended or revoked and concealing his identity.

“He was very upset for quite a while about the New Mexico stop,” Mr. Jenkins said, “because he didn’t believe you need a license to travel in the nation’s highways. That that is a right of every American, not a privilege.”

In a clip from an Internet radio show, Mr. Kane accused the New Mexico officers of kidnapping him from a “Nazi checkpoint” and said he had done a background check on the arresting officer. “I found out where he lives, his address, his wife’s name,” he said.
In a video of one of his seminars, which was removed from YouTube over the weekend, Mr. Kane responded to reports of a zealous I.R.S. agent by twice suggesting that she be found and beaten up. Joseph said, “If you pay for the bat, I’ll take care of the problem.”
Mr. Kane also referred to a earlier problem with alcohol, saying: “I don’t want to kill anybody but if they keep messing with me, that’s what it’s going to come down to. And if I have to kill one, then I’m not going to be able to stop. I just know it, I mean, I have an addictive personality.”

Ms. MacNab said Mr. Kane had first appeared on her radar about four years ago as a promoter of the debt-elimination program run by the Dorean Group, whose leaders have since been convicted of fraud and conspiracy.

Two years ago, she said, he resurfaced as the leader of his own seminars. Seminars of this type usually teach that each person has a real self and a “corporate self” that is a fabrication of the government, and that banks cannot legitimately lend money that belongs to their depositors.

“It’s mumbo jumbo; it’s magic words; it’s abracadabra,” Ms. MacNab said.

Ms. MacNab said that Mr. Kane had competitors far more successful than he, whose seminars might command audiences of 250 people at a time.

At Mr. Kane’s last seminar in Las Vegas a week ago, for which he charged $300 per person, only six people attended.
As we explained back when the controversy was raging, the DHS report wasn't an attempt to "silence" mainstream conservatives who may find themselves holding views uncomfortably close to these radicals:
It's about Richard Poplawski. And the dozens, if not hundreds, of little latent Poplawskis out there, waiting to pop off and kill more police officers, or just as likely, a crowd of innocent bystanders.
But you'll notice that all the people who were squawking loudly about the DHS bulletin a year ago are being terribly quiet about this case.

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