Police say at least two of the seven suspects arrested for the fatal shooting of two Louisiana sheriffs deputies last Thursday are connected to the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement.
According to WBRZ-TV, 28-year-old Kyle Joekel and 44-year-old Terry Smith had identified themselves as part of the movement, which was classified as a domestic terror group last year by the FBI.
Joekel and Smith, along with several members of Smith’s family and other associates, were arrested following an ambush on authorities in LaPlace, Louisiana, about 25 miles west of New Orleans. Deputies Brandon Nielsen and Jeremy Triche were killed in the ensuing shootout. Two more deputies were wounded.
Smith’s son, Brian Lyn Smith, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder. Arrested as principals to attempted first-degree murder were Derrick Smith, 22, and 21-year-old Teniecha Bright. Terry Smith’s wife, 37-year-old Chanel Skains, and 23-year-old Britney Keith, Bryan Smith’s girlfriend, were arrested and charged as accessories to the crime.
According to The New Orleans Time-Picayune the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which regularly monitors hate group activity, estimates that the sovereign movement is on the rise, with an estimated 300,000 members. A training video produced by the SPLC for law enforcement agencies has received about 80,000 orders.
“Sovereigns believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes,” the SPLC explains in a report on the group. “Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against government officials.”
Watch WBRZ’s Aug. 17 report on the group allegedly behind the shootings below:
WATCH: Nicolle Wallace breaks down ‘the case against William Barr’
MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace on Monday broke down "the case against William Barr" as controversy continues to envelop the Department of Justice.
"Republicans and Democrats who have served in the Justice Department for the past 12 presidents are today calling for William Barr's resignation as our country's attorney general," Wallace reported.
Wallace read from an open letter signed by 2,000 former federal prosecutors and DOJ officials.
Trump is ‘our chief criminal running a crime syndicate out of the West Wing’: Former federal prosecutor
Former federal prosecutor John Flannery is one of the over 1,100 former Justice Department lawyers and prosecutors who signed a letter demanding Attorney General Bill Barr resign after intervening to reduce the sentence of a close friend of President Donald Trump.
Flannery said that the backlash of Barr's intrusion is there are many who feel isolated or intimidated from speaking out against illegal or unethical things they witness.
"What they're doing is trying to erase the parallel case that was just the subject of the impeachment, because what [Roger] Stone is charged with was interfering in our election in 2016," explained Flannery. "And then obstructing the investigation by the Intelligence Committee into that interference, and causing them to lie and threaten and so forth. So, they'd like to erase that."
Buttigieg says Trump can ‘do chores’ if he’s unwilling to leave White House
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg joked on Monday about what he would do if President Donald Trump is unwilling to leave the White House after a 2020 loss.
During a campaign event in Reno, a voter worried that Trump might call his loss a hoax if the election is close.
"I mean, if he won't leave, I guess if he's willing to do chores, we can work something out," the candidate said to laughter and cheers.
Buttigieg argued that the best way to prevent Trump from "cheating" is to win by a significant margin.
"At the end of the day, there's only one president," he explained. "This is one of the reason we not just eke out a win, not just club everybody over the head and hope that we get to 51% and our Twitter followers outnumber your Twitter followers and we somehow piece together a squeaker."