Shawn Rice, experts say, was among about 300,000 people in the United States who consider themselves "sovereign citizens," members of a group observers say is both increasingly popular and increasingly violent.
The loose-knit movement, which has few organized groups or prominent public leaders, is built around a central tenet: Many years ago, a conspiracy infiltrated the U.S. government and subverted it, replacing parts of the legitimate government with a so-called illegitimate one.
Thus, sovereigns believe, most or all aspects of the government should not apply to them.
Beyond that, sovereign ideology varies widely as it spreads via Internet videos and classes taught by "gurus."
Many self-proclaimed sovereigns believe that county sheriffs are the only legitimate law-enforcement authority — a belief that seems to stem from long-running claims made by other anti-government groups that see federal law enforcement as a violation of the Bill of Rights. Others claim that supposed historical international treaties grant them authority to govern themselves. Newer organized groups have the stated purpose of preparing to replace the current — and supposedly illegitimate — Congress and other agencies.
Does anybody else see the delicious irony in the fact that these sovereign citizens have decided that, to become sovereign, one must file a bundle of paperwork with the local bureaucracy?
Oh, and also—bitches be crazy!