While there is a great deal of focus on heightened unrest in the Middle East, north Africa, and Europe, that doesn't mean things are hunky dory at home. Aside from a growing number of protests over plans to rein in public sector and other unions and to raise tuition costs at public universities, some individuals have decided they've had enough of a system that seems increasingly rigged in favor of the moneyed interests. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports in "FBI: ‘Sovereign Citizen' Cases on the Rise," they are adopting an especially aggressive approach to addressing the issue.
Federal authorities are seeing an increase in the number of foreclosed and unoccupied homes in metro Atlanta being seized by members of an anti-government group.
"I'm not sure I can connect it with the economy, but we've seen a surge of these in the last year, in particular," Stephen Emmett, special agent in the Atlanta field office of the FBI, said Saturday. Emmet said federal and local authorities increasingly are running into confrontations with members of a sect known as "sovereign citizens."
The group believes banks can't own land or property and that any home owned by a bank -- including the thousands of foreclosed properties throughout Georgia -- are theirs for the taking.
"They're expanding throughout the Metro Atlanta area," Emmett said. "DeKalb has had (its) fair share of problems with them and now Clayton."
On Friday, Clayton County SWAT was called to a foreclosed home near Riverdale where a couple had been living illegally. SWAT members surrounded the house after getting reports the people inside had threatened violence against anyone who approached the house. Gideon Israel and his wife, Deborah, had been living illegally in the bank-owned, gray stucco house on Stimson way near Riverdale in the northwest part of Clayton County and had submitted reams of fraudulent paperwork to county officials to try to block the eviction, according to Major Jeff Mitchell, who heads the enforcement division for the Clayton County Sheriff's Office.