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Baton Rouge Shooter Declared Himself a ‘Sovereign Citizen,’ Which FBI Considers ‘Growing Domestic Threat'

By Melanie Arter | July 18, 2016 | 2:03pm EDT
Baton Rouge Police with assault rifles block Airline Highway after police were shot in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, July 17, 2016. (AP Photo)

Gavin Eugene Long, the 29-year-old gunman who fatally shot three Baton Rouge police officers on Sunday, considered himself a “sovereign citizen,” part of a group that believes government and law enforcement does not hold any authority, which the FBI considers “a domestic terrorist movement,” the Kansas City Star reported Monday.

According to the Star, “Long declared himself a sovereign in records filed with the Jackson County recorder of deeds last year.”

In a YouTube video posted on July 10 - days before the Dallas police shootings which claimed the lives of five police officers - Long said he traveled to Dallas and was in town during the sniper shooting, which he called “justice,” the Star reported.

Long claimed that history shows “100 percent of revolutions, of victims fighting their oppression, from victims fighting their bullies, 100 percent have been successful through fighting back, through bloodshed.”

"Don't affiliate me with nothing," Long said. "Yeah, I was also a Nation of Islam member, I'm not affiliated with it. ... They'll try to put you with ISIS or some other terrorist group – no," he said in a video posted 10 days before he shot and killed Officers Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola.

Long said he’s “affiliated with the spirit of justice: nothing else, nothing more, nothing less.”

According to CBS News, the FBI called sovereign citizens “a growing domestic threat to law enforcement” in a 2011 law enforcement bulletin.” The bulletin said the FBI “considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement."

“They could be dismissed as a nuisance, a loose network of individuals living in the United States who call themselves “sovereign citizens” and believe that federal, state, and local governments operate illegally. Some of their actions, although quirky, are not crimes. The offenses they do commit seem minor, including regularly false license plates, driver’s licenses, and even currency,” the FBI bulletin, titled “Sovereign Citizens A Growing Domestic Threat to Law Enforcement,” stated.

“However, a closer look at sovereign citizens’ more severe crimes, from financial scams to impersonating or threatening law enforcement officials, gives reason for concern. If someone challenges (e.g., a standard traffic stop for false license plates) their ideology, the behavior of these sovereign-citizen extremists quickly can escalate to violence,” the bulletin added.

The bulletin noted that two “sovereign-citizen extremists Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old sin Joseph” killed two Arkansas police officers during a traffic stop.

“The sovereign-citizen threat likely will grow as the nationwide movement is fueled by the Internet, the economic downturn, and seminars held across the country that spread their ideology and show people how they can tap into funds and eliminate debt through fraudulent methods,” the bulletin stated.

“As sovereign citizens’ numbers grow, so do the chances of contact with law enforcement and, thus, the risks that incidents will end in violence. Law enforcement and judicial officials must understand the sovereign-citizen movement, be able to identify indicators, and know how to protect themselves from the group’s threatening tactics,” it added.

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