Police in Oklahoma arrested a man at a Black Lives Matter rally on Sunday, and charged him with creating a “terrorist hoax.”
Capt. Paco Balderrama of the Oklahoma City Police Department says that officers spotted 24-year-old Brandon Lara in the crowd, and nothing about him looked quite right. Balderrama told TV station KOCO that Lara was “basically wearing the attire of what people wear when they are about to rob a bank.” He says Lara was dressed in a baseball cap, sunglasses, and had a bandanna across his face. He was also carrying a backpack in what Balderrama described as a “suspicious manner.”
When officers stopped Lara they found he had eight smoke bombs in the backpack. The bombs resemble sticks of dynamite. Police believe he intended to set them off in the crowd, which was described as tense but peaceful, in order to create panic. “It could have been a very ugly situation,” Balderrama says.
Police say that Lara is a member of the “sovereign citizen” movement. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, sovereign citizens believe that the government has no authority over them. They believe they can choose the laws they want to follow, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes. While there have been violent clashes between sovereigns and police in the past, the SPLC says that most of the confrontations with them are in court. Sovereigns have been known to file court cases over things as simple as a traffic ticket. And of course, they are always running afoul of tax laws.
Lara, who had no previous criminal record, was taken into custody and charged with four complaints, two of them felonies. One of the complaints, creating a terrorist hoax, means that authorities actually called a white, right-wing activist a “terrorist.”
Here’s a report on the incident, via KOCO:
Featured image via KOCO screen capture