I have long been fascinated by an underground antigovernment movement known as the “sovereign citizens,” who are considered by law enforcement to be on the number one domestic security threat.
By Brandon E. Patterson
On July 17, in the second (at least) targeted attack on police in just over a week, 29-year-old Gavin Long shot six cops, three fatally, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The former Marine had posted YouTube selfie videos in which he commented on the need to respond to “oppression” with “bloodshed,” and praised the recent shooting of 11 officers in Dallas as “justice.” Long also appears to have been part of the so-called “sovereign citizen” movement. Last May, he filed official documents in Jackson County, Missouri, declaring a name change and identifying himself as a member of the Empire Washita de Dugdahmoundyah—a black group that espouses some of the movement’s ideas. According to the Daily Beast, Long was also carrying an ID card from the Empire at the time of the shooting. Here’s what you need to know about sovereign citizenship, and the branch Long subscribed to.