WSVN — Sovereign citizens, people who believe they do not have to follow basic laws, are considered serious domestic threats. There have been violent acts across the country, but here in South Florida, sovereign activity is primarily what authorities call "paper terrorism," bogus lawsuits and inflated court cases. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
In South Florida, contacts with sovereign citizens most often begin with traffic stops. They don’t think they need a driver’s license. It’s one of many laws believers don’t recognize.
Anthony Williams: "You can’t arrest nobody for a traffic violation."
Officer: "Well, we are."
Anthony Williams posted this video on the Internet. He calls himself a private attorney general. He carries a badge and says he’s a sovereign police officer.
Anthony Williams: "And I’m also a foreign diplomat."
None of that saved him from being ticketed for driving without a license.
Officer: "Where do you have a driver’s license?"
Anthony Williams: "I don’t have a driving license."
Officer: "You don’t have a driver’s license in any state?"
Anthony Williams: "No, sir."
Williams often wears glasses with a camera in them, and then posts the videos to YouTube. He uploaded this one of me, where he calls me a liar. Even though he agreed not to record our interview, our photographer caught him in the act.
Anthony Pineda: "Are you rolling with those glasses?"
Anthony Williams: "No."
Anthony Pineda: "Those glasses are videotaping. Those are videotape glasses."
Anthony Williams: "No, they’re not video. You’re not being recorded."
Obviously, that was not the case. Williams uses Internet postings to pump up his his Internet law office and profile as a legal expert, though he is not an attorney. What started as simple traffic offenses have been stretched to nine months of repeated court dates, with Williams challenging judges and representing himself.
Anthony Williams: "Licensed private attorney general Anthony Williams."
It’s a typical sovereign citizen tactic. In Broward, when these cases are heard, armed Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies are called to court for extra security. And, twice so far, those deputies have taken Anthony Williams into custody.
First, when he wouldn’t take off his hat in court.
Anthony Williams: "Well, they’re violating my constitutional rights."
Carmel Cafiero: "In what way?"
Anthony Williams: "My religious freedom to wear my hat."
And the second time because he had been stopped again for driving without a license.
Judge Melinda Brown: "OK, take him into custody. I find probable cause that he committed a new offense while he was out on bond."
Anthony Williams: "You see what’s going on over here. You’ll see that it’s for traffic, ’cause they know I’m exposing corruption in the driver’s license law."
Nine days later, a handcuffed and shackled Williams was back before Judge Melinda Brown. This time, he entered a no contest plea on both counts of driving without a license.
At first, he was evasive about understanding the paperwork.
Judge Melinda Brown: "Did you understand them? Sir, you can play games all you want, I have all day."
Anthony Williams: "I comprehend them."
He got credit for time served and a $700 fine. Williams told the judge he took a plea after talking with his family.
Anthony Williams: "They felt like I got bigger fish to fry than to be messing around with you and a traffic case right now."
Carmel Cafiero: "There are more sovereign citizen cases pending in South Florida, and authorities are keeping close tabs on them all. Anti-government beliefs by sovereign citizens have exploded, with deadly results in other communities. No one wants that to happen here. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.
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