The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A 40-year-old Georgia man who authorities say was part of a ring of antigovernment “sovereign citizens” squatting in high-end homes near Atlanta, claiming them as their own, was sentenced to six years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Jermaine Eric Gibson, of Atlanta, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Federal prosecutors requested a six-year sentence “to promote Gibson’s respect for the law.”
“Gibson declared that the laws do not apply to him,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracia M. King said in a sentencing memorandum. “Perhaps, this is why Gibson, a convicted felon, boldly possessed a firearm and did not hesitate to make it known to others that he possessed a firearm.”
According to court documents and trial testimony, Gibson moved into a foreclosed home in Lithonia, Ga., an upscale, gated Atlanta suburb in March 2013. He quickly declared he owned the house, valued somewhere between $300,000 and $600,000, by filing paperwork with DeKalb County officials claiming he had deeded the home to himself. ( continue to full post… )
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican elected in 2010 as a “Tea Party” candidate, admits that he held a number of meetings last year with leaders of an antigovernment sovereign citizen group, as revealed in a new book excerpt published this week.
But he now claims that the meetings were not an endorsement of the conspiracy theories and extremist politics that were discussed – rather, he was simply listening to his constituents.
The political storm over LePage’s dalliances with far-right radicals broke on Monday when Talking Points Memo published a key excerpt from As Maine Went: Governor Paul LePage and the Tea Party Takeover of Maine, a new book from political blogger Mike Tipping of Portland. The post described a series of eight meetings over nine months in 2013 that LePage initiated with members of the Constitutional Coalition, a sovereign citizens group based mostly in the state’s northern reaches.
Among the things reportedly discussed at these meetings was whether or not to seek violent retribution against key political opponents. A Coalition member named Jack McCarthy described the meeting on a radio program hosted by a small group of sovereign citizens calling themselves the Aroostook Watchmen:
We also discussed this there, that as far as I know, the penalty for high treason has not changed in 100 years. And, I did not say it, but the governor said it. I never – I never opened my mouth and said the word. The governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said they are talking about hanging them.
The younger brother of Brent Douglas Cole, the far-right extremist who now faces federal assault charges after his shootout with law enforcement officers in the northern California woods, isn’t sure where and when his elder sibling slipped into the surreal universe of “sovereign citizens.” But he believes his descent into right-wing extremism happened during his long residence in the woods of Alaska.
“He’s been up living life on his own for so long that he just doesn’t see it – that there’s rules that the rest of us follow for good reason,” Marcus Cole of Woodinville, Wash., told Hatewatch. “He’s used to just taking care of himself, and doesn’t understand why anyone wants to keep him from doing as he likes.”
Brent Cole remains in the custody of the Nevada County sheriff’s office while recovering from his wounds at a medical center in Roseville, where he is listed in stable condition. The Bureau of Land Management ranger and California Highway Patrol officer who both were wounded in the confrontation on Saturday near Edwards Crossing in the Sierra Nevadas were treated and released.
The Cole brothers grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, the son of a nuclear engineer employed at what was then called the National Reactor Testing Station (later the Idaho Nuclear Engineering Laboratory). Brent Cole was one of the first graduates of the new Skyline High School in 1971, and promptly moved away – to the Sierra Nevadas, not far, his brother says, from the place where he got into the shootout.
Brent was married there a few years after high school, and the couple moved to Texas and had a son. They also shortly divorced, after which he moved to Alaska and took up life in the woods. He made his living through construction work. ( continue to full post… )
A 44-year-old anti-government “sovereign citizen” was convicted this afternoon in federal court in Chicago of filing a series of false $100 billion liens – that’s billion with a b – against some of the biggest names in the city’s federal legal community.
After deliberating for more than two hours, a jury found Cherron Phillips guilty on 10 of 12 counts of retaliation against a federal official by filing false claims, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Clearly Phillips had taken to heart and added her own twist to the sage words of Daniel Burnham, the master builder and visionary urban planner, who in the late 19th and 20th Century shaped the image of Chicago.
Burnham’s advice, “Make no little plans.”
Phillips apparent motto: “Harass no little people.”
‘Sovereign Citizen’ Wounded in California Campground Shootout with BLM Ranger, Highway Patrol Officer
A self-described “sovereign citizen” camping out in the woods of northern California was arrested following an armed confrontation with two law enforcement officers this weekend. All three men were wounded in the ensuing shootout.
The shootout began, according to news reports, when a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger contacted the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and asked for backup at a wooded campground near Nevada City, a few miles west of Lake Tahoe and the Nevada border, as part of an investigation involving vehicles at the site. As the two officers headed into the brush and began approaching a remote makeshift campsite, they were confronted by 60-year-old Brent Douglas Cole.
Gunfire was exchanged, and Cole was hit by several rounds. The BLM ranger was wounded by a gunshot to his right shoulder, and the CHP officer suffered minor injuries. The two officers were treated and released at local hospitals; Cole remains in custody at Sutter Roseville Medical Center in Roseville, where he is listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit.
Cole, according to The Union in Nevada City, has had numerous run-ins with law enforcement, including several other weapons-related incidents. The most recent of these occurred on Jan. 26, when he was arrested by Nevada County sheriff’s deputies and charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
Cole also has a history of indulging in far-right conspiracies on the Internet. At one site, he described himself as a “sovereign American Citizen attempting to thwart the obvious conspiracy and subterfuges of powers inimical to the United States.”
On his Facebook page, he has posted a number of conspiracy-related stories, including pieces describing the so-called “Bilderburger conspiracy” to control the world and various “Federal Reserve” conspiracy pieces. Likewise, his Twitter account is full of posts with a similar conspiracist bent.
After his January arrest, Cole flooded the Nevada County Court clerk with a blizzard of nonsensical, pseudo-legal filings – a typical tactic of so-called “sovereign citizens.” In one of these, Cole spelled his name in lowercase letters and called himself “a natural born, flesh and blood, living man.” ( continue to full post… )
A survivalist murder suspect sought in the murder of a woman whose body was found in an underground bunker-equipped home was arrested late Thursday, police in Portland, Ore., reported.
Gary Alan Lewis, who appeared in a jail booking photo to have dyed his hair red, was arrested without incident after an alert citizen tipped police, Sgt. Peter Simpson said in a news release.
The arrest occurred in the Roseway neighborhood in northeast Portland, not far from where the remains of 59-year-old Renee Suzanne Sandidge-Crowell were found on Tuesday after a four-day search of property owned by Lewis, police said.
Lewis, who reportedly stocked his underground bunker with water and food, fearing an imminent collapse of government, was scheduled for a first appearance today in Multnomah County Superior Court.
A man described as an antigovernment survivalist is now the subject of a nationwide manhunt after a woman’s body was found in or near an underground bunker he built at his Oregon home in anticipation of a government collapse.
Gary Alan Lewis, 61, who has served prison time for drug and burglary crimes, is now wanted for murder in the death of Renee Suzanne Sandidge-Crowell, authorities say. The 59-year-old woman rented living space in the basement of Lewis’ home — described as a fortress with the bunker, barred windows and security cameras — in northeast Portland.
There have been ongoing landlord-tenant disputes between Lewis and Sandidge-Crowell and, at one point, she accused him of poisoning her dog, according to various media reports.
Remains believed to be those of the missing woman were recovered late Tuesday after a four-day search by detectives, joined by police forensic and bomb squad technicians, the Oregonian reports in today’s editions. A police spokesman said the woman’s remains were not found in the residence or in a trailer, but wouldn’t confirm reports that they were discovered in the underground bunker.
Lewis, now considered a fugitive, hasn’t been seen since before Saturday, when police went to his home after getting a suspicious activity report. ( continue to full post… )
A man described by authorities as an antigovernment “sovereign citizen” entered a courthouse in suburban Atlanta this morning armed with multiple guns and explosives and opened fire. The man was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies shortly after wounding one officer in the leg.
According to Sheriff Duane Piper, the man, Dennis Marx of Cumming, Ga., drove up to the courthouse in his SUV and emerged from the vehicle with several guns and some explosives, and reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest and a gas mask. As he approached the entrance, he threw out homemade smoke grenades that briefly covered his approach with orange smoke, as well as pepper spray grenades and homemade spike strips.
Forsyth County deputy Daniel Rush came out to confront Marx and was shot in the leg. Then, as Marx proceeded into the building, he was met with a hail of gunfire and was killed.
The wounded deputy, a 25-year veteran, was taken to a local hospital and treated. Sheriff Piper praised him, saying Rush’s actions stalled Marx long enough for SWAT team officers and other deputies to arrive in place and protect the people working inside.
“It would be a guess to think how many lives he saved had he not engaged him right there,” Piper said. “Mr. Marx’s intention was to get inside that front door and to take hostages.”
Piper said that Marx was well known as a “sovereign citizen” to deputies at the time of the attack. Marx had a long-running lawsuit against the sheriff’s office over alleged unconstitutional raids on his home, and was due in court Friday morning to face marijuana and weapons charges.
Marx apparently had been living for the past week in a motel. When deputies went to his home, they found evidence that it had been rigged to blow up when law enforcement entered. Piper told a WSB-TV reporter he was confident the place had been set up as an explosive trap. ( continue to full post… )
A candidate running for county commissioner in Memphis laid down a bold public challenge shortly before winning this month’s Democratic primary election.
“I challenge anyone to review my track record,” Eddie Jones said in the 2014 Voter Guide published by the Commercial Appeal.
Since the 55-year-old Jones walked away with four out of every 10 votes in the primary and will be unopposed in the September general election, the newspaper took him up on that challenge.
Yesterday came this bombshell: Jones was fired as a Memphis Police officer for drug use 18 years ago and recently filed extremist sovereign citizen movement papers while trying to keep a bank from foreclosing on his home.
In response, Jones told the newspaper that, yes, he had troubles years ago but his life is much different now.
Jones also claimed that despite his bogus, do-it-yourself legal filings – one of the hallmarks of the sovereign citizen movement – he is not himself part of that movement, which is a loose collection of extremists who generally believe they are above the law and do not recognize the authority of federal and state governments.
“I’m kind of glad all of this is out there,” Jones said when reporters started asking questions.
The newspaper reported that Jones was the clear winner in the May 6 Democratic primary for the District 11 seat on the Shelby County Commission, with 39.2 percent of the vote, and is expected to take office after the September general election. The next closest Democratic candidate in the primary was Claude Talford, who collected 22.3 percent of the vote.
The district is heavily Democratic and there is no Republican on the ballot. The newspaper quoted election officials as saying even a write-in candidate couldn’t beat him because, by law, any such candidate would have to have been certified 50 days before the primaries.
“Let’s get this out of the way,” Jones told the Memphis newspaper. “What happened in my past, it happened. I won’t deny that. I won’t make up any excuses for it. But that’s not a part of my life anymore.”
When the newspaper published its voter guide in April, Jones said: “In serving the community, responding to the community and listening to the community gives me the knowledge of my community. I challenge anyone to review my track record. I stand behind my campaign platform of integrity, honesty and proven leadership. My ethical behavior will warrant the trust of my constituents.”
He did not mention being fired as a police officer for drug use or his recent use of legal papers associated with sovereign citizens. ( continue to full post… )
The manhunt for three fez-wearing drug dealers, claiming to be “Moorish nationals” – the kissing cousins of the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement – continued today after the men disappeared on Monday just as a federal jury in Detroit was finding them guilty in one of the largest narcotics cases in the city’s history.
“It was a very significant drug case,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Rob Watson told Hatewatch today. “Any lead we get we’re taking seriously and following to exhaustion.”
Before they fled, the men – Earnest Proge and brothers Carlos Powell and Eric Powell – faced possible life sentences and $10 million fines.
They men were out on bond during the trial and never showed up for the reading of the verdict. Carlos Powell, according to The Detroit News, cut his ankle tether at 12:33 p.m. Monday –– 18 minutes after the verdict was read.
In February, prior to the start of the nearly two-week trial, someone wrote a letter to the court, saying that because of the men’s “Status, and Nationality” as members of the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), the Greensboro, N.C.-based group “will stand as surety against any and all claims that have been brought against them. “If there is an amount to be paid to settle this case on their behalf,” the letter continued, “please forward any and all bills to: Moorish Science Temple of America, c/o Sheik Martin El, Trustee.”
Understandably, the judge dismissed the letter as frivolous, according to The News, adding that another court filing said that the fezzes the men wore each day to court were “religious headdress that must be worn to distinction.”
So-called Moors are typically black nationalists who, like antigovernment “sovereign citizens,” deny the jurisdiction and authority of the government. For the Moors, that denial is based on the theory that they are the real sovereign natives of North America, and that the government later established by white European settlers has no right to rule them. There are numerous Moorish groups around the country. Some of the groups, including the Washington D.C.-based Moorish Science Temple of America Inc. that was founded in 1913, strenuously protest being lumped in with sovereign citizens, saying that they are, in fact, law-abiding citizens of the United States. ( continue to full post… )