News & Politics

11 Members of Heavily Armed 'Rise of the Moors' Group Arrested After 9-Hour Standoff With Police

(Twitter screenshot via @Anaridis)

What is the “Rise of the Moors” and why is the group carrying a Morrocan flag?

Authorities in Massachusetts are wondering the same thing this morning after nine heavily armed men identifying as members of a group known as Rise of the Moors were confronted by a lone state trooper in the emergency lane of Interstate 95.

The men were armed with pistols and long guns and dressed in camo. When asked to produce gun licenses they politely refused, claiming they were legally armed because they were traveling through Massachusetts and hadn’t intended to stop.

The state policeman called for backup and before too long, the Rise of the Moors contingent was surrounded by armed state and local policemen. A standoff of sorts ensued that ended this morning when authorities took the men into custody.

Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey disputed the notion that the group is “anti-government.

MassLive:

“We’re not anti-government, we’re not anti-police, we’re not sovereign citizens, we’re not Black-identity extremists,” Bey said during a livestreamed video posted to YouTube Saturday morning.

He believes the group is traveling legally by abiding by federal laws, though not acknowledging Massachusetts laws, which he does not believe apply to the group as they did not intend to stop in Massachusetts.

The immediate assumption of the media is that these guys are anti-government wackos. Our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center identified the group as an offshoot of the sovereign citizens movement.

“The Moorish sovereign citizen movement is a collection of independent organizations and lone individuals that emerged in the early 1990s as an offshoot of the antigovernment sovereign citizens movement, which believes that individual citizens hold sovereignty over, and are independent of, the authority of federal and state governments,” the SPLC says of the movement. “Moorish sovereigns espouse an interpretation of sovereign doctrine that African Americans constitute an elite class within American society with special rights and privileges that convey on them a sovereign immunity placing them beyond federal and state authority.”

Mr. Bey denies any connection to the sovereign citizens’ movement or any anti-government militia. They have apparently had a few skirmishes with police due to their unique take on gun rights. Otherwise, they don’t appear to be much of a threat.

Thankfully, the state police don’t see them as much of a threat either. State Police Col. Christopher Mason says his troopers encounter citizens groups like this on a regular basis.

“I’m not saying that this group does, but we have had those encounters before in the past, we trained to those encounters,” he said. “We very much understand, you know the, I guess the philosophy that underlies that mindset, and we train our officers actually at the academy on these interactions and how to de-escalate those situations and how to engage with people that have that that philosophy and mindset and resolve those situations, you know, in a peaceful manner, which is what we’re committed to doing today.”

The fact is, it’s likely no one in Massachusetts was in any danger from these people. They were minding their own business on their way to a farm in Maine where they planned to “train.” But once the trooper stopped to see if he could offer assistance to two broken-down cars on the side of the interstate, he was forced to enforce Massachusetts law.

The trooper is blameless. It’s the law that’s the problem.