A man in full military gear livestreamed an early morning standoff with Massachusetts police that ended in 11 arrests and the seizure of numerous guns.
Early on Saturday morning, a state police trooper encountered a group of heavily armed men in the breakdown lane of Interstate 95, who were refueling their vehicle. A standoff began, police said, when members of the group, called Rise of the Moors, said they didn’t have or weren’t currently carrying gun and driver’s licenses, and didn’t recognize state laws.
Parts of the encounter were livestreamed by one group member named Jamhal Talib Abdullah, who is identified on the group’s website as Moorish American Consular Post Head. According to the site, Rise of the Moors is a group that believes various groups including Black people, native Americans, and other people of colour are part “one people” known as the Moors, descended from ancient African mariners, who now constitute a “non-self-governing nation” that is “under the occupation power of the de facto United States Corporation”.
“We already assured them that we’re going to go peacefully, so they have nothing to worry about,” Mr Abdullah says in one stream. “We are not sovereign citizens. I reassured them that we are not Black identity extremists. I reassured them that we are not anti-police. I reassured them that we are not anti-government.” In another stream, the man claims that under federal law, “they have no right or authority to detain us”.
Massachusetts state police said on Saturday that it was illegal to carry loaded or unloaded guns on public byways like the interstate. Police arrested all 11 men present without incident, after some attempted to flee and the highway was shut down temporarily.
“I have to applaud the actions of the trooper – very patient, very understanding with them, very adept at de-escalation,” state police colonel Christopher Mason said at a press conference.
Rise of the Moors did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, members of the Moorish sovereign citizen movement are a collection of independent organisations and individual groups with roots in the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded in 1913. The MSTA has condemned sovereign citizen groups and those in the Moorish movement who use radical or subversive tactics against the government. Police said the men were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for “training”.