Early on when I first began blogging, and after hearing Frank Taaffe defend George Zimmerman, I brought up the influence of sovereign citizenship ideology in Taaffe’s defense of Zimmerman’s actions. According to Francis (Frank) Taaffe, Zimmerman was frustrated by crime in his community and road out like Night Riders to capture Blacks walking free in that community. (As a side note, the Night Riders of the KKK have a National Office in Live Oaks, FL, and a branch office in Fort Myers, FL.) Soon, other Zimmerman supporters picked up the mantra and it extended to Zimmerman’s defense team during his trial.
Zimmerman’s frustration was to gain support of White Supremacists who stereotype all young Black males as hoodlums. If Zimmerman was not arrested it would give sovereign citizens the right formula to commit murder and walk free.
With Juror B37’s literary agent revealing that the jury found Zimmerman not guilty due to the manner in which Zimmerman was charged, it reasonably conveys that Juror B37 believes that Zimmerman is not subject to the law. That clearly conveys sovereign citizen ideology.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that “sovereign citizens” “believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore.” Based on statements made by Jurors B37 and B29 in the George Zimmerman case, how they reached their decision by blaming it on there being no law to convict, is classic sovereign citizenship, twisted logic.
The foundational logic behind sovereign citizen ideology is that descendants of slaves and foreigners became U.S. citizens because of the 13th and 14th Amendments, or “statutory citizens” unlike sovereigns whose citizenship is established by the Declaration of Independence. Based on comments made by Maddy, also known as Juror B29, the other jurors made her submissive to them, beginning with that age-old theory that 14th amendment citizens are slaves for sovereign citizens and not intelligent enough to understand anything and must be told what to think. Maddy was played by the cultist persuasion and White Supremacy beliefs of sovereign citizens.
Most sovereign citizens whose beliefs are not originally rooted in White Supremacy are people who have found themselves in a desperate situation, often due to unemployment, underemployment, foreclosures, unpaid taxes, etc. Frank Taaffe and George Zimmerman are ideal people to embrace sovereign citizen ideology. Taaffe has been litigating a foreclosure case for years. The federal bureau of investigation reports that some sovereign citizens impersonate law enforcement officers. George Zimmerman wanted to be a cop. Giving Zimmerman undeputized authority to kill under the color of law enforcement gives all citizens the same right.
The FBI says there are thousands of Sovereign Citizens in the state of Florida. Some simply look to make money off citizens they recruit into the movement; others use system-slowing filings on things like mortgages to drag out the foreclosure process. There is an active group in Florida whose leader operates out of Clearwater.
“Sovereign citizen” is a broad, general term that is often applied to any individual person or group that does not believe that the laws of the United States or the state laws apply to them. In other words, they are beyond the jurisdiction of law enforcement authority. The term “sovereign citizen” should be viewed as an umbrella under which you will find thousands of loosely organized groups or individuals that share one basic ideological principle but approach it through different paths.”
As Johnny Liberty, a sovereign citizen out of Oregon stated in 1995, his goal is to teach others how to reclaim their rights and defend those rights once they have reclaimed them. Manipulating a jury to decide that there is no law to find a murderer guilty of murder, is one way of reclaiming the rights of sovereign citizens. Due to that jury’s decision, we can bet that sovereign citizens will rely on it in the future to argue that the state lacks jurisdiction to charge them with committing a crime. I can hear their argument now – “The law is not written to convict.”
The logic and theories of sovereign citizens is just as twisted as the excuses we have heard from Jurors B37 and B29. It is likened to saying that they were asked to drive a car from one point to another. During the course of their trip, they became lost. Rather than asking for directions, they wrecked the car. Their justification? None of them could read and understand the map.
In 1999, the National Center for State Courts published “The Anti-Government Movement Guidebook” to help judges identify sovereign citizens in their courtrooms via the methods they use, including filibustering, lack of jurisdiction and common law arguments.
Although law enforcement and judges are aware of sovereign citizens when law enforcement or the courts are involved, they seldom recognize the ideologies elsewhere. Not all sovereign citizens recruit through online websites. They infiltrate churches. They regularly visit public libraries and courthouses to engage others in conversations and once getting their attention, deflect the conversation to their ideologies. It appears that they also infiltrate neighborhood watch groups.
Although sovereigns believe they are superior to Blacks and other minorities, they are not opposed to using them to accomplish their goals of challenging laws. Used as sacrificial guinea pigs, they are encouraged to raise challenges in the courts. For instance, actor Wesley Snipes was duped into using sovereign citizenship tax arguments. He ended up sentenced to prison for tax evasion. Had he been successful in the argument of sovereigns that federal taxes are unconstitutional, sovereigns would have taken advantage of that “win.” If not, then it was just another Negro who was Negro rich going to prison.
Sovereign citizens also engage people in positions of authority or influence in hope that they will promote and practice their agenda. Tampa Bay news reports that in 2011, Tom Laughlin, a detective with the Sarasota police department, was convinced by his brother to file papers declaring himself sovereign and immune from the laws of the State of Florida and the United States. He was subsequently terminated from his job.
Tom Laughlin’s defense applies to the Zimmerman jury. His defense was, “I’m ignorant. I’m stupid.”
Juror B29 plainly stated that Zimmerman committed murder, but she relies on the way the law was read to her to decide that there was no law in which to convict Zimmerman. That is classic sovereign citizenship ideology. Who on the jury convinced her that there is no law that convicts an initial aggressor who kills another from being convicted of murder or manslaughter? Who on the jury practiced law by interpreting the law to other jurors?
What sovereign citizens accomplished by the Zimmerman verdict is to give sovereign citizens the right to murder 14th amendment citizens without answering to the law. The Department of Justice would do well to investigate each member of the Zimmerman jury in effort to find who used sovereign citizen persuasion tactics to convince at least 3 other jurors that there is no law setting forth that murder is a crime. You see, the jury’s verdict in the Zimmerman case is not about Zimmerman. Rather, it’s about rebelling against the government and furthering sovereign citizen agendas.