Police shooting sparks sov-cit expert to warn of rising ‘cult’ danger

The Australian: “Police shooting sparks sov-cit expert to warn of rising ‘cult’ danger“:

(paywall free):

Sov-cit expert Rob Sudy, who once chatted online with one of the trio involved in the Queensland police shooting, says Australia has experienced an explosive growth in anti-government communities.

“Back in 2017, Rob Sudy had an online conversation with Gareth Train, one of the three shooters who killed two police officers and a neighbour in Wieambilla earlier this week.

Sudy’s Facebook page regularly lit up with angry rebukes from sovereign citizens.

Train had approached Sudy over a post concerning one of the greybeards of the movement, Brian Shaw. Declared a vexatious litigant in Victoria in 2007, Shaw had previously attempted to sue John Howard and Kim Beazley for treason and misprision of treason.

He engaged in multiple frivolous legal action against judges, claiming they were part of a freemason conspiracy. Shaw also argued the Victorian Constitution was invalid and had been enacted without legal authority.

It is these fanciful notions that form the bedrock of pseudo-legal arguments and continue to delude and divert Australians to the sovereign movement.

Sudy sent Train case histories and legal judgments made against Shaw. He was able to turn the conversation around to a broader discussion on self-sufficient off-the-grid lifestyles, an interest both men shared.

“He appeared quite rational,” Sudy said. “Unlike many of those commenting on that page in defence of various pseudo-law gurus.”

Sudy is Australia’s resident expert on the sovereign citizen movement in Australia. He dislikes the term sovereign citizen, preferring to refer to the amorphous clique as adherents of what he calls an “organised pseudolegal commercial argument”.

While Sudy dislikes it, the term is applicable as members who find themselves before the courts declare themselves “sovereign” and by the pseudo-legal argument maintain the courts have no jurisdiction over them.

Is it a cult?

“Yes, definitely,” Sudy told me. He would know. Sudy is not a bland academic musing on the esoteric. He was a sov-cit and fell out with the group more than a decade ago. He now dedicates himself to documenting and exposing the influencers of the movement on a website called the Freeman Delusion.

As a member of the cult, Sudy became deeply immersed in internet chatrooms and websites.

“It was a mass thought bubble,” he said. “Law-breakers were praised and encouraged. Everyone felt the embrace of the movement. Detractors and doubters were quickly sent packing.”

After a conviction for driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle, he left the sov-cit bubble and walked away. More than a decade later, and with years of exposing pseudo-law practitioners under his belt, Sudy’s knowledge is sought by academics here and around the world.

Sudy has also become an enemy of the movement.

“I’ve been told that I’ve been sentenced to hang. The People’s Court has already handed down its sentence.”

The magistrate who convicted him on the traffic matters is now a friend and regular correspondent. Sudy was lucky to come across one of the few members of the judiciary who had experience of the movement and gently coaxed him away.

I interviewed Sudy when a sov-cit proclamation written by former One Nation senator Rod Culleton was read to a large group of protesters outside the federal parliament in February 2021. I reached out to him again this week as the terrible news from Wieambilla came through.

Sudy spoke of a rapid increase in the numbers of adherents.

“There’s been huge growth. I gave up taking all the names of those influenced just after the start of the pandemic, there’s just too many for me to keep up with. Rapid multiplication, like multi-level marketing growth.

“The pandemic was the first major restriction on freedoms several generations have seen, and because the response provided an example of the plenary power of the state, it was already very fertile ground to propagate anti-government sentiment.

“People from all walks of life sought solutions to what they perceived as government tyranny. All they needed was a tool with which to exert their feelings of disenchantment, and speculations as to the lawfulness of the response went viral. It went mainstream from what was once limited to specific small groups.”

That tool was the pseudo-law framework put about on social media by sovereign citizen influencers.

Much will be made of the Trains’ religious beliefs. In postings, Gareth identified as a Christian conservative.

“It is the intersection of fundamental religious notions and anti-government sentiment that is very dangerous,” Sudy said.

There are other forces at play. The Trains were fringe dwellers, identified as “blockies” in their communities, and lived in self-imposed isolation. There are more people like the Trains out there who are now not leaving an online footprint.

“This recent event has the elements of the prepper community. The adherents that pose a real danger in similar circumstances got offline a while ago,” Sudy said.

“They are all busy actively preparing for more severe government intrusion; they gave up trying to ‘wake up the sheeple’ and have instead focused on their own and loved ones’ protection and survival. When that is threatened by intruders (police or not), violence is inevitable.”

Sudy had seen the violence coming from long way off and is frustrated that senior police, politicians and the courts have failed to educate themselves on the inherent dangers of the movement or sought to act in a way that would moderate the impact of sovereign citizenry with its pseudo-legal justifications.

“I started bringing the potential dangers of this movement in Australia to the attention of authorities in 2014, which led to investigations aired in 2015. I feel almost nothing has been done to prepare for the inevitable explosion that I warned a single crisis would spawn.

“Just look at the US response, the official FBI and law enforcement papers are all published here. Almost immediately there were training blocks for law enforcement, tips on how to identify signs of radicalisation for the officers’ protection.

“Psychologists have grouped OPCA ideologies with the beliefs of right-wing hate groups and ultraconservative Islamic groups such as ISIS and al-Qaida as a personal grievance blamed on others, with moral outrage linked to a “victimized” group, that is framed by a superficial, cherrypicked ideology that rationalises aggression.”

So where are we now? Surely, some real action must occur across the criminal justice system, in our parliaments, and in our communities to prevent people stuck in a cult from moving to violence.

Sudy’s own experience informs us that people can be brought back from the brink but that cannot occur in a system that is ignorant to the nature of the problem.

At present, the only available answer is to respond with force. We need to be better than that, smarter.

Sudy says a paper will soon be published and workshops involving police, lawyers, judges and government will take place on how to constructively deal with the rise of the sovereign citizen movement. It is important work but it’s probably a decade too late.

In the meantime, police commissioners, parliamentarians and the judiciary would do well to listen to Rob Sudy. A failure to do so would be taking blindness into wilful territory.”