A roadside standoff between police and a group of armed men in tactical gear who claimed to be members of a Moorish American group in Massachusetts ended on Saturday with the arrest of eleven suspects.
1:30 a.m. Saturday, a state trooper stopped to check on two vehicles in Wakefield’s emergency breakout lane of Route 95, according to the Massachusetts State Police. The men appeared to be military personnel, as they were refuelling their vehicles while donning military gear and carrying weapons.
When the group failed to provide identification and firearm licences, Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason said, the trooper asked for backup.
The stalemate eventually moved into the woods near the interstate, where no shots were exchanged during that time. Nine of the men involved were taken into custody around 10:15 a.m. by the police. At around 8 a.m., two suspects were taken into custody. According to Colonel Mason, the men surrendered without incident, and “a number” of firearms were confiscated.
Patience, professionalism and cooperation were all factors in the successful resolution of this matter, he said. When it comes to the end result, “a safe resolution” is what we want.
The men in the standoff claim to be members of a group called Rise of the Moors, according to Colonel Mason. “Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our Elders” is how they describe themselves, according to their website.
Their self-proclaimed leader wanted it made clear that their ideology was not anti-government, the colonel said. Their ideology and motivation will become clearer through our investigation.”
“Training,” he explained, was en route from Rhode Island to Maine.
“We are not anti-government,” a man said in a livestream on the group’s YouTube channel early Saturday morning. According to the man, who was dressed like a soldier, the group had stopped to fill up their cars with gas cans in order to avoid “making any unnecessary stops” while driving around with firearms. “Their private land” was also mentioned by the man.
In the end, he clarified, “We do not intend to be hostile or aggressive.” To put it another way: “We are not anti-police or anti-government; we are not sovereign citizens; we are not Black identity extremists.”
Another member of the group shouted from the background, “We are foreign nationals!”.
The Southern Poverty Law Center claims that in the early 1990s, a movement of Moorish sovereign citizens emerged. A branch of the antigovernment sovereign citizens movement, it asserts that citizens have sovereign authority over and are independent of federal and state governments.
It’s not clear if the Rise of the Moors has any connection to that movement.