Police in Oklahoma arrested an anti-government activist on terrorism hoax charges after he brought smoke bombs to a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Officers spotted a white man wearing a ball cap, sunglasses and a bandana across his face Sunday evening at the Oklahoma City rally, and they were concerned about the backpack he wore slung across his chest in a suspicious manner, reported KOCO-TV.
The man, later identified as 24-year-old Brandon Jesse Lara, initially told police he did not want to be searched, and he made statements consistent with the “sovereign citizen” movement.
Lara called his detainment illegal and demanded to be released, but police searched his backpack and found eight commercial-grade smoke bombs, each about 6 inches long.
“They look very menacing to the naked eye,” said Capt. Paco Balderrama, of Oklahoma City police. “They look like bombs or sticks of dynamites.”
Lara, of Edmond, was arrested without further incident and charged with terrorist hoax, possession of explosive device, outraging public decency and wearing a mask in the commission of a crime.
“We fully believe this person intended on setting them off in a crowd to cause alarm, chaos, panic or whatever,” Balderrama said. “And (it) could have been a very ugly situation.”
A friend told The Raw Story that Lara had not intended to disrupt the event but was carrying a rainbow flag, emblazoned with “stop hate,” with his partner to support the demonstrators.
The friend denied Lara had ties to the sovereign citizen movement, and another demonstrator recalled seeing him there and said he did not seem to have any racist intentions.
A U.S. Army veteran shot and killed five police officers and wounded five others Thursday night at a Black Lives Matter in Dallas, which had been organized to protest the police killings of two black men last week in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Lara has had no previous run-ins with police, but other members of the loosely organized sovereign citizen movement have been arrested on a wide variety of charges.
Adherents believe most government authorities are illegitimate and cite fallacious legal theories to back their claims.
Most sovereign citizen arrests are on nonviolent charges — typically related to tax avoidance or fraud schemes — but many have plotted or carried out violent attacks on law enforcement or other government authorities.
Many law enforcement officials have identified sovereign citizens as the nation’s top domestic terror threat.
Watch video of the arrest posted online by Mekala Littleton:
Watch this video report posted online by KOCO-TV:
Updates: Some additional information has been added to this story since it was originally published.