Arkansas cop killers were ‘sovereign citizens,’ right-wing extremists who believe they are exempt from the law.

Think Progress

In late May, a father-son pair of so-called “sovereign citizens” shot and killed two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas after being pulled over on a routine traffic stop. Militia-like “sovereign citizens” take right-wing “tenther” beliefs to their logical extreme, declaring themselves exempt from federal law and from paying taxes, and believing they “don’t have to answer to any government authority.” The FBI lists the movement as a “domestic terror threat,” and as NBC Nightly News reported last night, the West Memphis shooting highlights that this growing anti-government movement may become violent:

While the sovereign citizen movement has existed for some time, its popularity appears to be growing in a climate where the anti-government rhetoric of the tea party movement has become commonplace. Former President Clinton, speaking at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in April, “drew parallels” between the anti-government tone that preceded the Oklahoma City Bombing “and the political tumult of today.” Sadly, several recent incidents of right-wing extremist violence — including the West Memphis shootings — suggest he may be right.