Armed with cellphones, cameras and sometimes handguns, these self-described “First Amendment auditors” traipse through government buildings, roam the halls of police departments and wander around airports and natural gas plants across the country.
But critics, including domestic terrorism experts, say the tactics are intimidating — sometimes downright scary — and that the “auditors” seem intent on inciting authorities. And they fear that it’s just a matter of time before one of the encounters turns violent.
“I am definitely concerned,” said Bob Paudert, former police chief of West Memphis, Ark., whose son and another officer were gunned down by anti-government sovereign citizens during a traffic stop in 2010. “These are the same tactics the sovereign citizens use. The language they use, going into city office buildings, refusing to give their names but demanding you give yours, videotaping everybody.