A man charged with trying to remove $2,800 worth of copper cable from a V.I. Water and Power Authority facility on St. Croix has told a judge that he wants to represent himself as a sovereign citizen.
Jamal Nathan Green was arrested on Nov. 24 and charged with trespass, destruction of property and tampering with utility equipment, according to a probable cause fact sheet filed by V.I. Police.
Police said they responded to the WAPA facility at the former Caribbean Auto Mart after receiving a report that a man was trespassing on the property.
When officers arrived, WAPA employees and security staff said an unknown man, later identified as Green, was “pulling on the 350-foot underground copper cable” valued at $2,800, and “was trying to load it onto a green 2 door Chevy pickup truck,” according to the fact sheet. A security guard called 911 and used a truck to block the exit, trapping Green inside the facility until police arrived.
Officers interviewed Green, who identified himself and said that “he was told by his boss to pick up the copper wire,” according to the fact sheet. When officers asked for proof of Green’s identification and his boss’s name, “he replied ‘I don’t have to give it to you,’” and “who gave you authority to be here.”
Police said Green kept trying to load the copper wire onto his truck, and police found that it was registered to another man, whose name was redacted from the fact sheet.
The officer who authored the fact sheet wrote that “Mr. Green was asked if he suffers from a mental illness because of his responses to my questions,” and Green said “no, you calling me stupid,” and claimed ownership of the truck.
Police tried to check to see if the vehicle had been reported stolen via the 911 Emergency Call Center, “however, the dispatcher informed me that their system is not currently working,” according to the fact sheet.
Police said they found seven slice markings on the copper wire, and told Green that he was not permitted to be on WAPA property and he needed to leave.
Green told officers that “I will leave after I am done,” and “I will go just so that you can stop talking to me because I don’t know who authorized you to talk to me.”
Officers placed Green under arrest, and he was held in jail overnight on $500 bond.
At his initial court hearing, Green told Magistrate Judge Miguel Camacho that he wanted to represent himself, and “I don’t think my rights are being fully acknowledged.”
Camacho explained that it was an advice-of-rights hearing, and Green only needed to acknowledge the charges against him and confirm that he understood his rights as a criminal defendant. “I’m challenging the jurisdiction of the court and placing my status on record as an internal sovereign,” Green said.
Sovereign citizens are individuals who do not recognize government authority and do not consider themselves to be subject to government statutes or proceedings, and the term can be used to refer to a variety of people with different views on the federal government’s role in public life. Some sovereign citizens refuse to pay taxes, obtain government-issued identification, sign government forms, or adhere to court orders such as foreclosures — but some extremists have carried out acts of domestic terrorism while claiming sovereign citizenship, according to the FBI.
Territorial Public Defender Leslie Davis asked that Green be allowed to sign an unsecured bond, meaning he would not have to post any cash in order to be released from jail.
Assistant V.I. Attorney General Amie Simpson also asked that Green “be ordered to stay away from any WAPA property,” and Camacho agreed to release him under those conditions pending trial.