Monday, February 21, 2011

Sarasota Detective Fired For Becoming His Own Country (What?)

A man goes to local courthouse and files documents declaring himself a "sovereign citizen," complete with "a thumb print on each page and a photocopy of 21 silver pieces — the price to become a "freeman."  That man now considers himself no longer subject to the laws of the United States and, as such, exempt from the bother of paying taxes, among other things.

In most places, that man would be considered "nuts."  

In Sarasota, that man walks the streets.  He carries a gun.  He wears a badge.  In Sarasota, that man is homicide detective, Tom Laughlin.

Laughlin, it seems, is part of a growing movement of individuals declaring themselves to be sovereign citizens of the world, including  Terry Nichols of the Oklahoma City bombing, Joe Stack, who flew his plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, and Jerry and Joseph Kane, the father and son who fatally shot two Arkansas police officers last May, who all believe that "the red numbers on a Social Security card were clues to finding the account, and that birth certificates were related to secret ships berthed in a port that held access to millions of....dollars."


Tom Laughlin is no stranger to controversy.  Before coming to Sarasota, Laughlin was known to a generation of movie fans as the iconic:

Billy Jack

Laughlin made several 'Billy Jack' films in the 60's and'70's, including Billy Jack, The Trial of Billy Jack, Billy Jack Goes To Washington, New Billy Jack City, You Don't Know Billy Jack, Jumpin' Billy Jack Flash and a series of travelogue vignettes entitled Hit The Road, Billy Jack, And Don't You Come Back No More, No More.

Said Sarasota City Manager, Bob Bartolotta, "We knew Det. Laughlin might be a bit of a loose cannon for some of his counter-culture ideas when we hired him, but he was Hollywood!  Our citizens just loved seeing him around town in that funny hat of his, beating people up."

Following his dismissal from the force, security cameras at Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota  caught Laughlin confronting some of the very same homeless people he used to enjoy rousting so much as a cop:

City Manager Bartolotta reports that no charges will be filed against former detective Laughlin for the fight and that all fourteen of the homeless men injured in the altercation were given checks for $400 and bussed out of the city.