Number of anti-government groups skyrockets - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Number of anti-government groups skyrockets

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(WMC-TV) - New numbers show anti-government groups are skyrocketing in the United States. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of "sovereign citizens" reached an all time high.

The SLPC is an organization that tracks extremist groups.

Mark Potok says two factors played a major role in the explosion of anti-government groups: the election of Barack Obama as president, signaling the changing racial demographics of the country, and the economic downturn.

"Police in virtually all 50 states have had encounters and sometimes dangerous encounters with so-called sovereign citizens," said Potok, SLPC.

Sovereign citizens are not new to the Mid-South.

In May 2010, a father and son duo killed West Memphis police officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans during a traffic stop. The two suspects later died in a shootout with police.

Sovereign citizens do not pay taxes and do not believe that apply to them. They are one of a growing number of anti-government groups.

According to the SPLC, there were just 149 anti-government groups in the country in 2008. In 2012, the number exploded to 1,360. That is an increase of 813 percent.

"This period, especially with the talk of gun control, is very reminiscent of the period leading up to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing," said Potok.

Expect the growth of these anti-government groups to continue with law enforcement undergoing new training to stop threats of violence.

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