HAMILTON, TX — Monday, an FBI raid in Marlin made headlines. By Tuesday, Central Texas News Now had confirmed the raid had to do when an investigation into sovereign citizens.
But who are these sovereigns and what do they believe? Central Texas News Now reached out to a Central Texas News Now to find out.
After Marlin Police arrested Ray Bledsoe Monday morning, the FBI swooped in to search his house.
Sheriff Rickey Scaman later told Central Texas News Now Bledsoe lived in the home illegally. ”He's from here in Marlin. The residence behind us isn't his. He was living here illegally like a squatter" said Sheriff Scaman.
Bledsoe also had a Facebook page which railed against police.
Later a law enforcement source confirmed to Central Texas News Now the FBI's interest in Bledsoe stemmed from his role in the sovereign citizen movement.
Sovereigns typically don't follow government law and they will often take over vacant property.
But one Central Texas sovereign citizen doesn't agree with what Bledsoe did.
"Can you squat in someone's house? No, that does harm to them. That's in common law,"said Randall Townsend, a soverign citizen.
Townsend, who was recently released from a Texas prison, says sovereigns, or people born here, typically answer to "common law".
"My understanding, when I got involved, was to give the American people the freedom that our forefathers wrote down in all of our documentation."
Texas apparently only has occasional incidents with sovereigns. One notable incident involving a sovereign citizen in Central Texas happened a couple of years ago in Hamilton. To this day most public officials do not want to talk about it.
It happened when police arrested Townsend for driving without a license. Townsend told officers he didn't need one. The incident resulted in Townsend taking city and county leaders to court.
”They sued me. They put liens against me and my businesses. We had to go to court and get it dismissed in district court," said Hamilton County Sheriff Justin Carraway.
Sheriff Carraway believes some sovereigns pose a danger. ”I think it's more their unstable mental state. I think it may be more of like a home grown kind of terrorism more than anything," said Sheriff Carraway.
The Southern Poverty Law Center agrees calling sovereigns "domestic terrorists."
Townsend respectfully disagrees, and says he doesn't believe in violence. "When you want to actually pick up arms and go against your local law enforcement, your family and friends, I don't agree with that," said Townsend
In surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015, law officers from around the country ranked the risk of terrorism from sovereign citizens higher than that of any other group, including Islamic extremists, militias, and neo-Nazi's.