When people talk about things like militias and sovereign citizens, they assume you’re talking about a bunch of white guys. After all, historically, these people are a bunch of white dudes. However, a standoff with armed individuals in Massachusetts might just change your thinking on that.
Most of the time, we see videos of white males telling police they cannot be ticketed or arrested because they are sovereign citizens and are somehow magically immune to the laws of the United States of America. Yet apparently, a group called Rise of the Moors is joining in the fun.
Eleven “heavily armed” members of a fringe group called Rise of the Moors were arrested on a Massachusetts highway Saturday following a bizarre nine-hour standoff with law enforcement that included hostage negotiators.
The incident unfolded in the wee hours of an otherwise quiet holiday weekend morning, shutting down I-95 in both directions along with a local commuter train service, and leading to shelter-in-place orders in two local communities north of Boston.
Nobody was harmed during the dramatic ordeal. Shelter orders in the towns of Reading and Wakefield were lifted late Saturday morning.
“We have several armed persons accounted for at this scene on Rt 95. They are refusing to comply with orders to provide their information and put down their weapons,” the Massachusetts State Police said on Twitter at 5:37 a.m.
The nature of the group is unclear as police continue to investigate.
“We’re not anti-government. We’re not anti-police. We’re not sovereign citizens. We’re not black identity extremists,” the man in the video said. “We haven’t violated any laws.”
The men claim “to be from a group that does not recognize our laws,” the Wakefield Police Department said in a statement. “No threats were made, but these men should be considered armed and dangerous.”
Of course, this is from Saturday when things were still fresh.
Now, there’s more to know a bit more about the Rise of the Moors group.
Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason said the men identified themselves as being part of a group known as Rise of the Moors and that they adhere to “Moorish Sovereign Ideology.” 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.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, 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 anti-government sovereign citizens movement, which believes that individual citizens hold sovereignty over, and are independent of, the authority of federal and state governments.
It is not clear if Rise of the Moors is specifically affiliated with that movement.
During the standoff, though, members of the group continued to claim they were breaking no laws, which is different than what you tend to hear from sovereign citizens who claim the laws simply don’t apply to them.
So yeah, they might not be sovereign citizens.
What we do know, though, is that they definitely made Massachusetts police nervous. Following it up with refusing to provide identification likely didn’t help alleviate those concerns.
However, on the flip side, it seems police weren’t really interested in who these guys were until they saw the firearms. It’s sad that we live in a world where that supposedly matters. The right to keep and bear arms is sacrosanct for all Americans. Mere possession of a firearm probably shouldn’t be grounds for police to demand identification absent any other reason for concern.
Granted, the guys dressed like a militia probably didn’t help.
Honestly, based on what I can see, I’m not happy with how anyone handled this in the initial stages. However, the situation was resolved peacefully, which is good news.
It should be interesting to see what happens with this as time marches on.