'Sovereign citizen' arrested after traffic stop, standoff in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A police officer performing a routine traffic early Wednesday morning in Colorado Springs got a surprise when he walked up to the vehicle.

When the driver rolled down his window, he stopped the window part way and handed the officer a note indicating he [the driver] was a sovereign citizen, police said.

The officer said the driver then rolled the window back up and refused to communicate with the officer.

Colorado Springs Police said other officers were called and set up a containment area around the vehicle at 1:30 a.m. on South Academy at Airport Road.

Two passengers got out, but the driver stayed.

Police said after 80 minutes of negotiations using a phone and loud speaker, the driver finally exited the vehicle.

Adrian Hill, 45, was arrested on suspicion of obstruction, interference, an outstanding warrant and several traffic violations, police said.

One of the passengers, Patrica LaBarge, was also arrested for an outstanding warrant unrelated to the traffic stop, police said.

The FBI says individuals living in the United States who call themselves “sovereign citizens” believe that federal, state, and local governments operate illegally. 

While some commit minor offenses, the FBI said, "The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement." Well-known members include Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City bombing.

"Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons," the FBI website explained. "Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations."

Learn more in this FBI bulletin to law enforcement.

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