Anti-Government Sovereign Citizens Taking Foreclosed Homes Using Phony Deeds, Authorities Say

Officers kept that in mind, he said, when conducting raids on home in the Atlanta area. Visits that would normally require a few officers instead involve many more to protect against any retaliation.

"We want to ensure that that propensity for violence doesn't take them to the next level," Emmett said. "These raids on these homes where they've trespassed at, large amounts of law enforcement have to deal with that because they have to be prepared for a potential struggle with these individuals."

It's not over once the handcuffs go on. Melvin called the followers "paper terrorists" for their propensity to follow up arrests with lawsuits and fake property liens.

"They'll try to intimidate you with bogus paperwork," he said. "It's kind of creepy when these people make you a target and try to get your Social Security number."

Movement Once Rooted in Racism Now Attracting Black Americans, Expert Says

Potok said he believes the majority of sovereign citizens are non-violent, but said there is a "substantial" subgroup who will do anything, even kill, to protect what they consider to be their freedoms.

"People come into this movement for very different reasons," he said. "Many are real true believers. And in many ways those are the scariest of all, because they end up murdering cops."

As the last few years have given rise to a new crop of sovereign citizens -- the movement started in earnest in the 1970s -- so have the number of black Americans claiming they are exempt from government confines.

It's an interesting trend, Potok said, because the sovereign citizens have their roots in white supremacy. Melvin noted that all seven sovereign citizens his county is after are black and identify with the Moorish Nation, which Potok described as a black nationalist group "with very strong streak of sovereign beliefs."

"What was attractive, I think, to black groups I think was the idea of completely sovereignty: 'the white man can't mess with us,'" he said.

But Shaykh Ra Saadi El, chief minister with the Atlanta-based Moorish Science Temple of America, denies the men and women caught up with area's sovereign citizen movement have anything to with his temple.

"They're not Moorish Americans. Moorish Americans do not claim to be sovereign citizens," he said.

While the Moorish believe they are "a nation within a nation," Ra Saadi El said members know they need to obey the law of the land.

"There's no such thing as being free from paying taxes," he said. "These people do not have a concept of law."

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