Some of the Facebook groups I’m on have been monitoring the #ReopenNC Facebook pages and the pages of individuals associated with the movement. Besides the talk about violent threats, which have caused a split in the movement and led to near riots at the Michigan legislature and the NC Governor’s mansion, it looks like the extremist vortex of gun rights psychos, antivaxxer conspiracy theorists, evangelical zealots, and Karens who have to get their tips frosted during a worldwide health crisis have been joined by deranged Sovereign Citizens.
A hair salon owner in NC has been trying to get publicity for her intention to violate the state orders and reopen her shop. Someone noticed this comment posted on her page:
"FYI, a guy named Larken Rose is working on a template for 42 USC 1983 civil rights lawsuits against government officials. If your civil right go to work is violated by government officials as a result of the CV19 shutdown, the template will make it easy to hold them accountable. You will have to file the lawsuit, but the hard work will all be done for you without having to hire a lawyer.
Here's a legal notice for them. Print off a few copies and have it ready to hand out if you're bothered.
Larken Rose is a well-known tax protestor who seems to be related to the Sovereign Citizen movement - those guys that basically say they don’t have to pay income taxes or be subject to laws because of some obscure legal theories having to do with fringe on flags in courtrooms.
In the early 2000s, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for failing to file income taxes for five years as he tried to start a little media empire, selling books and videos with his off-kilter legal theories. His nonsense has been debunked and called “Idiot Legal Arguments” by the author of one casebook. In 2006, Wesley Snipes tried to use Rose’s arguments to evade taxes. It didn’t work.
Since his tax evasion conviction, Rose seems to have grown more militant, still hawking his books and videos, but expanding into a blog, YouTube channel and Twitter feed, where he describes himself in whatever terms seem convenient for the nutter flavor of the moment. (He’s lately settled on being an “anarchist”.) His YouTube channel has videos with titles such as “When Should You Shoot a Cop?”, “Complying with Tyranny”, “Commie Lunacy”, and “Cops: Protectors or Predators?”
If you examine the document linked in the Facebook comment (and promoted on Rose’s Twitter feed), it’s boilerplate Sovereign Citizen legal nonsense, adapted for the #Reopen movement, tossing out seemingly random legal citations in an effort to intimidate police that are just doing their job.
Rose is part of a whole anti-government ecosystem that feeds the “violent overthrow” fantasies of the “Don’t Tread on Me” gun maniac crowd with vague legal gibberish designed to confuse and intimidate law enforcement and waste time in court, at the same time giving false hope that nutters have some obscure legal basis for ignoring the law and putting the public in danger. And it fuels the sale of more books and videos promoting all this quasi-legalistic drivel.
City attorneys and judges in NC should be aware that some #Reopen nutcases are going down these legal rabbit holes and be prepared to ignore this legal nonsense and just enforce the law.
The NC press is on notice - stop treating this movement with kid gloves. It’s a small minority of right-wing hucksters, conspiracy theorists, and disturbed individuals that are threatening violence. They’re bottom feeders and they’re dangerous - they’re going to cause another Charlottesville with their so-called “protests”. Giving them air and failing to dig too deeply into the sickening mix of societal misfits that are leading this movement puts a big part of the responsibility on you if someone dies or gets hurt, either from more infections or violence stemming from this movement.
Trump is already calling the Michigan Reopen rioters "very good people". The conservative NC politicians and groups tacitly or actively promoting these nutcases - Dan Forest, Civitas, Berger, and Moore - need their feet held to the fire on this.