A group of heavily-armed men who say they’re part of a movement “that does not recognize” the laws of the United States were arrested Saturday after a nine-hour standoff with police that shut down parts of a Massachusetts interstate.
NBC Boston reports:
The group of nine men were reportedly in two cars stopped in the breakdown lane on I-95 in Wakefield with their hazard lights on around 1:30 a.m. when police stopped to assist them. Police said the responding trooper saw that they were wearing “tactical or military style” uniforms, including tactical vests and body cameras. Some had long rifles, others pistols or some combination of both.
Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason said the men identified themselves as being part of a group known as Rise of the Moors. The group’s website describes them as “Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our Elders.”
“Their self-professed leader wanted very much known their ideology is not anti-government,” Mason said. “Our investigation will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is.”
Eleven members of Rise of the Moors were ultimately taken into custody without incident, according to NBC Boston.
The Boston Herald reports that Mason said police used negotiation and “tactical maneuvers” to apprehend the group.
From the Herald:
He said cops — who described this as a “dangerous incident” — contained the men to the woods off of I-95. He didn’t elaborate on what the group wanted, saying he didn’t want to “propagate” their ideology, though he said that they wanted to leave the area without “accountability” and that they wanted attention.
Staties said that the “heavily armed men” were “claiming to be from a group that does not recognize our laws.” Mason said the men said they were on their way from Rhode Island to Maine for a “quote-unquote ‘training’” on the Fourth of July weekend. There was little further information available about what that meant, and Maine State Police wouldn’t say more than acknowledging that they were aware of the Wakefield situation.
According to the Herald, Rise of the Moors is based in Rhode Island and is largely made up of Black members. During the standoff, two members of the group held a Moroccan flag, which the Southern Poverty Law Center says is related to some who identify as Moors believing there is a 1787 treaty between the United States and Morocco that grants them immunity from U.S. law.
That treaty does not exist.
The SPLC goes on to describe Moors as an “offshoot of the anti-government sovereign citizens movement,” which believe that they “get to decided which laws to obey and which to ignore.”
But in a YouTube video, which is currently unavailable to watch in full, the leader of Rise of the Moors said that wasn’t the case with this particular group.
The Washington Post reports:
A video posted to social media Saturday morning showed a man broadcasting from I-95 near Wakefield, clad in what appeared to be tactical gear.
“We are not anti-government. We are not anti-police, we are not sovereign citizens, we’re not Black identity extremists,” said the man, who did not give his name, but said he was from a group called Rise of the Moors. “As specified multiple times to the police that we are abiding by the peaceful journey laws of the United States federal courts.”
The man said the group was on the side of the road early that morning when police approached.
“We were afraid, so we got out with our arms,” the man said. He referred to the group as a “militia” in a separate video, saying they intended to travel peacefully to Maine.
“The Peaceable Journey Law” that the group referenced in its video allows people to transport firearms through states that they don’t hold a valid permit in, as long as they are permitted–either by permit or constitutional carry–in both the state of origin and the state of their destination.
But as the Herald reports, state police asked the men for their driver’s licenses and firearm permits. They either didn’t have them or didn’t provide them.
More from the Herald:
Although State Police didn’t go into detail about their negotiation tactics beyond listening to the group’s ideas and taking their time, former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told the Herald he imagined the members surrendered because police reasoned with them that they’d be able to argue their case in court, even if they disagree with the police officers’ assessment of the situation. He said it’s normal for the police negotiators to work to “build a relationship” with these men.
While Ryan declined to go into detail about the nature of the charges facing the men, Davis speculated that they could end up facing charges relating to failing to show firearms licenses, disorderly conduct if they used “fighting words,” or disturbing the peace if the officers had to enter citizens’ businesses, yards or homes to secure the area.
I got a lot of questions here, man. A LOT of questions. Guess we’ll see if we get more answers as this whole thing continues to unfold from here.