At The Washington Post, Peter Holley writes about accused killer Markeith Loyd:
Loyd’s Facebook page makes no explicit mention of the sovereign belief system, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t immersed in the movement’s ideas, according to Bob Paudert, a 35-year law enforcement veteran who trains police departments around the country on how to identify and avoid violent confrontations with sovereign citizens in their communities.
Judging the references in his statement, Paudert said, Loyd used the language of “a hardcore sovereign” and speculated that he may have come into contact with the ideology in jail.
“There’s plenty of sovereigns in jail,” Paudert said. “They’re just like gangs. They’re in prison as well, and once they get there, they try to recruit while they’re incarcerated. It’s not uncommon for people to become radicalized once they’re behind bars.”
So what did Loyd’s statements mean?
Paudert said many sovereigns believe the U.S. government sells its citizens’ future earnings to foreign investors when they are born. Adherents often believe the funds are secretly kept by the U.S. Treasury in a secret trust that is only accessible to those who opt out of their “corporate” status, which splits them off from their flesh-and-blood self in the eyes of the government and keeps them subject to U.S. and international law, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The amount of money sovereigns believe they’re owed is based on their lifetime earning potential and can range from a few hundred thousand dollars to tens of millions, depending on the particular strain of sovereign precepts they follow, Paudert said.
“They believe that if you renounce your citizenship, then you can get into that account and draw out all the money that the government owes you,” he added. “It can all sound very unusual to people who are not familiar with their ideas.”
Using information from government reports and the trials of tax protesters, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimated in 2011 that the number of people testing out sovereign techniques nationwide was about 300,000, with one-third of those being “hardcore sovereign believers.” Among the movement’s best-known acolytes is Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City bombing, according to the FBI.