I-Team: Controversial Beliefs of Sovereign Citizen Movement - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Controversial Beliefs of Sovereign Citizen Movement

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David Brutsche David Brutsche
David Brutsche David Brutsche

LAS VEGAS -- Many Las Vegans were introduced to the sovereign citizen movement with the domestic terrorism arrest of David Brutsche in August. Police also suspect sovereign citizen groups with a growing form of home loan fraud.

The sovereign citizen movement is quite wide and nebulous. It's similar when a person says they're a member of "anonymous" or the "tea party," there is no single answer as to what that means.

Sovereign citizens have been called a hate group and anarchists by police and civil rights groups. But what the I-Team discovered is that the sovereign citizen movement is not one monolithic dangerous force. It's a variety of individuals who hold a variety of beliefs.

After an outburst during a court appearance, it was easy to tell David Brutsche didn't like the judge. In fact, he doesn't like any judge and he questions the very validity of the court system. Brutsche says he's a member of the sovereign citizens movement and believes local police are agents of federal tyranny.

An undercover police officer said he uncovered Brutsche's plot to kidnap officers, hold a trial and eventually execute an officer on video. In a jailhouse interview, Brutsche discussed his beliefs.

"Just because they have a badge doesn't mean they have the right to steal from people and take people's freedoms away," he said.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's counter terrorism unit began posing officers as inmates at the Clark County Detention Center in April to infiltrate local sovereign citizen groups.

"We were trying to ascertain if we had a threat similar to what the nation was seeing and if that was in conjunction with what was also being put out by the FBI and DHS," an undercover police officer testified at Brutsche's preliminary hearing.

Sovereign citizens have been on the Department of Homeland Security's watch list for years. They've flagged license plates, passports and stamps often concocted by those calling themselves sovereign citizens. Sovereign citizens put out Internet videos to explain their beliefs.

"There is a human, you and a paper you. Or as it's commonly known, a straw man. Your straw man or legal personality is a piece of paper created from your birth certificate and you think it's you," the narrator said.

Brutsche and other local sovereign citizens have filed affidavits with the county records office. They declare their independence from any law they deem not following what they view as God's natural law. Clark County officials say they receive a couple of these declarations each month. Russell Smith with Nevada's Attorney General's Office says he's fighting a growing sovereign citizen scam.

"They told the people that by filing these documents, they would be able to get their home out of a foreclosure and they would also be able to get their home free and clear. But for a fee, they would show them how to do all this," Smith said.

There is no clear racial, religious or gender profile on who considers themselves a sovereign citizen. Prosecutors say accused Las Vegas Strip shooter Robert Jackson was arrested with a so-called sovereign citizen passport claiming diplomatic immunity from a "Moorish Science Temple." In another case, the Hispanic and Filipino community was being targeted in a home loan scam.

"We see pockets now that are being taken advantage now at a higher rate than we used to," Smith said. "Minority groups, especially non-English speaking minority groups."

Alfred Adask travels around the country to speak to fellow sovereign citizens. He says the federal government oversteps its constitutional authority on police powers, banking, and the war on drugs. The I-Team spoke to Adask online from his home in Texas.

"If people think that this issue of sovereignty is just some silliness, it's not. It's fundamental. It's vital. It's important and it's central. It goes to the issue of the question - who's the boss? Are we the people in charge or is the government in charge?"

Adask does not advocate violence. He says sovereign citizens should take their fight to the courtroom.

"If you think you're not subject to any law, you are an anarchist. You're not a sovereign. Sovereigns are subject to the law," he said.

There is no hard count of how many people are sovereign citizens. There are no party or organization meetings. But there is a fight for the heart and soul of the movement. Is it to be a group passionately advocating for the end of Federalism? Or will the movement be hijacked by those pushing for a violent overthrow of the government? That's the question keeping local police and even some members of the sovereign citizen movement on edge.

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