Video from the scene of the shooting in Forsyth County. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Sovereign Citizens movement responsible for “paper terrorism,” violence

Dennis Marx, the shooter who attempted to occupy a Forsyth County court house Friday, has been identified by law enforcement officials as a member of the Sovereign Citizens Movement.

Marx represents a still-small percentage of the anti-government organization that escalates from “paper terrorism” to acts of violence. The group, classified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a domestic terrorist organization, maintains the belief that they are not subject to municipal, state and federal systems of law, instead following only “common law.”

Members of this group consider the United States government illegitimate and do not believe in paying taxes, needing a valid driver’s license or even the government’s right to tell them which laws to follow, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.

The group has a long list of beliefs including that the government has enslaved its citizens by backing U.S. currency on the “full faith and credit” of the government instead of the gold standard. Also the organization is known for its belief in a secret second identity and monetary amount assigned to each citizen at birth known as a “straw man.”

The organization has a reputation for combating the government it doesn’t believe in through the use of overwhelming amounts of paperwork, largely fraudulent and amassing to thousands of pages, intended to clog the court systems, frequently resulting in financial damage.

For instance, Citizens don’t believe in a bank’s right to own property so they consider all foreclosed property up for grabs. Members use bogus paperwork to occupy government or bank owned property leading to numerous racketeering charges in the area and around the country.

But that isn’t always the end of it.

The group, which normally functions on a platform of inconveniencing the system has, as in cases like this morning been known to commit violent acts, primarily targeted at the law enforcement officials they claim have no authority when they are feeling desperate.

The SPLC reported seven law enforcement officers have been killed by Citizen extremists since 2000, with additional people injured.

Sovereign Citizens membership is believed to be sharply on the rise – as of 2011 an estimated 100,000 fully engrossed members and an additional 200,000 coming into the fold according to the SPLC .

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