Chances are, like the vast majority of law-abiding citizens, if a police officer pulls you over, you pretty much do everything asked of you, including answering questions like, ‘Can I see your driver’s license and registration?’ or ‘Do you know why I pulled you over?”
Your first thought when you get pulled over isn’t usually to tell the officer to pound sand and explain they have no legal authority to issue you a citation.
It doesn’t seem like something most reasonable people would even think of doing, but it happens. Not often, thankfully, but it does happen on occasion. You see, the “sovereign citizen movement” is becoming a problem for police officers. Members of the movement interpret the law as they see fit and seem to have a problem following the laws the rest of us seem okay with.
Members of this movement devalue the role of government in creating and enforcing the rule of law. I would venture to guess that the growth of the internet has added to their numbers.
The FBI has listed them as domestic terrorists, resulting from the fact that extreme members of the movement have killed law enforcement officers.
An example of how difficult believers of the sovereign movement ideology can be occurred on December 9, 2016, in the state of Georgia. A Henry County officer pulled over 27-year-old Lauren Law for a simple equipment violation. When the officer walked up to the car window, she proceeded to explain that broken tail lights were not a crime, and she was not obligated to provide the officer with her driver’s license.
This set up an ongoing conversation regarding appellate court decisions, the Constitution, and her belief that she did not have to provide the officer with her driver’s license.
Seeing he was getting nowhere, the officer called for backup. A supervisor and additional officers arrived. After being asked to cooperate by several different officers, with no attempt to comply, the driver’s window is broken and Law is arrested.
Law recorded the entire incident, apparently posting it to her Facebook account. Now, most of us would find the entire incident nonsensical and ridiculous. For the officers involved, it is frustrating and, at some level, dangerous. Officers have been killed by adherents of the sovereign movement ideology.
This is just another issue that police officers have to be prepared to face as they deal with an oftentimes recalcitrant society.
Here are a couple more videos of police officers dealing with followers of the sovereign citizen movement.
Joe is a retired captain. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.