HHF Opinion: The police shooting of Korryn Gaines and the Sovereign Citizen movement

Written by Big Momma ‘Miz’
On August 1st, 23 year-old Korryn Gaines was fatally shot by police during a stand-off (when holding her son who was also injured). Unlike other recent police shootings of Black Americans, the community reaction was muted: there were no street marches, no vigils, no riots and protests. Some claimed that this lack of public outrage reflected broader sexism in the US and a lack of interest in recognizing Black American women shot by police – symbolized by the #SayHerName movement that followed the death of Sandra Bland in Texas. 
But as Big Momma ‘Miz’ writes here Gaines is a ‘controversial’ figure, not only because of her behavior with the police but also for status as a Sovereign Citizen, a group previously associated with white supremacist movements.

 

Have you ever heard of or met a Sovereign Individual/Citizen?

In a nutshell, these people have a strong belief in their obligation to individual rights; a disbelief of political equality; a belief in the right to financial and personal privacy. Meaning, sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.

Police say a Baltimore County officer stopped Korryn Gaines’ car in March because it displayed cardboard signs in place of a license plates, which stated, “Any Government official who compromises this pursuit to happiness and right to travel will be held criminally responsible and fined, as this is a natural right or freedom.” The officer wrote several tickets; as expected, and asked her to get out the car because it will be towed; as expected.

Now let’s be real, If you’re riding around with a piece cardboard instead of state issued plates, there is a possibility you may encounter some police interaction. And when we are faced with it, is it wise as a ‘black person’ to add more fuel to the fire? According to police, Gaines became belligerent and had to be forced from the car because she refused, it was said that she told an officer they would have to murder her to get her out of the vehicle.  Gaines recorded the stop, on the video she allegedly told her son; “Don’t be afraid, you see what they do to us, right? You fight them. They are not for us. They want to kill us, and you never, ever back down from them.”

Ryan Gaines, her 26-year-old brother, described his sister as a determined woman who would fight battles even when it was clear she couldn’t win.  “She’s very opinionated; she stood her ground,” he said. “That’s the thing about Korryn, right or wrong, she stood her ground.”  Gaines said he and his sister shared unpopular political beliefs.  Whenever they witnessed injustice, he said, they felt compelled to object.  

OK, I understand the mindset of having love for yourself and your people and wanting to see better treatment in certain circumstances, but where her antics justifiable? Some family members believed Gaines acquired militant beliefs. Her mother said she did not agree with all of Gaines’ beliefs but knew her daughter was passionate.  

Media reports, dependent on police accounts, say the police used extreme patience before firing first – and yet, although Baltimore County Police had recently implemented a body camera program, none of the officers on the scene of the Gaines’ shooting were equipped with body cameras, nor did they send for any.

On August 1st police went to Gaines’ apartment in Randallstown, Maryland to serve her with an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court, five months after the traffic incident. Police say that Gaines barricaded herself with a shotgun at the apartment. For hours, police said they tried to talk her down. At one point, they obtained another warrant charging Gaines with first- and second-degree assault, obstructing and hindering, and resisting or interfering with arrest, according to court records reported by the Baltimore Sun.

Police state that Gaines repeatedly threatened them and aimed her gun at them. At around 3 pm, she allegedly said, “If you don’t leave, I’m going to kill you.” An officer fired his weapon once, according to police. Gaines returned fire. Police then opened fire. By the time it was over, Gaines was dead and her 5-year-old son, Kodi, was injured.

It appears that Gaines’ actions were in alignment with the anti-government sovereign citizen movement. I’m not sure if she was a participant in the parties that held illegal courts that issued warrants for judges and police officers “making a citizen’s arrest”.  Their weapon of choice is paperwork, they jam the court system with frivolous lawsuits and liens against public officials to harass them. And they use fake money orders, personal checks, at some government agencies, banks, and businesses.  Sovereign citizen’s cast-off courts, laws and law enforcement as illegitimate.

Interestingly, considering Gaines’ African-American background, most early sovereigns, and some of those who are still on the scene, believed that being “white” was a prerequisite to becoming a sovereign citizen. The movement is rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, seem to be unaware of their beliefs’ origins. In my opinion, that has to be the highest level of ignorance next to being a Christian. 

In the early 1980s, the sovereign citizen’s movement mostly attracted white supremacists and anti-Semites, because sovereign theories originated in groups that saw Jews as working behind the scenes to manipulate financial institutions and control the government.

Was Korryn Gaines’s death a result of being “down for the cause” if so, please tell me what exactly is the cause? Here is a movement that originates among white supremacists, but many supporters now are African-American….WTF?

I cram to understand our people’s mentality thinking we can align ourselves with any type of movement that isn’t designed for us, or displaying actions that bear absolutely no results, like marching and protesting! Some believe Korryn’s erratic behavior to the lead poison she reportedly suffered from.

While all of this may be true, it’s useful to remember another case – that is similar to the one leading to the death of Korryn Gaines in August – involving Baltimore County police from 2000 that lasted for days, not hours.

After Joseph Palczynski went off in a murderous shooting spree in the Baltimore suburbs, which left four people dead (including a pregnant mother of a two-year old boy) he took the family of his ex-girlfriend hostage in their Dundalk home. After a 97-hour standoff with Baltimore County police (Palczynski actually shot at police on several occasions during the siege), two of the three hostages escaped after drugging the gunman and that’s when law enforcement finally entered the home while Palczynski slept and killed him.

Joseph Palczynski killed four people in a span of about 48 hours, held a family hostage while he shot at police, and law enforcement waited almost 100 hours before they finally entered the home where he was holed up as he slept and killed him. Yet, Korryn Gaines died in less than six hours after police attempted to serve her a warrant for a traffic violation, while using “extreme patience”.

080616-national-korryn-gaines-instagram

 

Sources:

Baltimore Sun; Anderson J. & Amarachi Mbakwe 2016 Aug 5

newPittsburghCourierOnline.com Yoes, S. “Was There a Rush to Kill Korryn Gaines” 2016 Aug 11

www.splcenter.org Fighting Hate/ Extremist Files Turner, Timothy J.

www.vox.com Baltimore County shot Korryn Gains – and her 5 year old was caught in the crossfire Lopez, G. 2016 Aug 4

 

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