11 Armed Suspects Arrested Following 9-Hour Armed Standoff on Mass. Highway

A self-proclaimed spokesperson for the Rise of the Moors group talks to police during stand off on MA Interstate 95. (Twitter Video Screenshot)
Twitter Video Screenshot

Massachusetts State Police arrested 11 people on Saturday who allegedly claimed to be members of a group known as the “Rise of the Moors.” The arrests followed an hours-long standoff with the armed members on Interstate 95 near Wakefield, Massachusetts, after suspects reportedly said they don’t “recognize our laws.”

Early Saturday morning, the Mass State Police Twitter account posted a series of tweets regarding a standoff with multiple armed suspects in two vehicles in I-95.

Officials placed two of the members under arrest and continued the standoff with the remaining members of the group.

The incident began when a state police officer observed two vehicles parked on the side of the interstate with their hazard lights blinking, the Associated Press reported. State Police Colonel Christopher Mason told reporters the officer observed as many as ten men wearing military-style gear and carrying long guns and pistols around the vehicles.

The members of the group reportedly refused to comply with orders to put down their weapons and other verbal orders. The people told the officers they do not “recognize our laws,” police said, according to the AP report.

The colonel said the men told the officer they were members of the “Rise of the Moors” group and were headed to Maine from Rhode Island for “training.” The men reportedly refused to put down their weapons and several members took off into the woods, the report states.

“You can imagine, 11 armed individuals standing armed with long guns slung on an interstate highway at 2 in the morning certainly raises concerns, and is certainly not consistent with the firearms laws that we have here in Massachusetts,” the state police commander said.

An alleged spokesperson for the group took to social media and said they were not anti-government, anti-police, or a sovereign citizen group.

A second video posted on social media shows the heavily armed man wearing combat gear talking to police and stating they do not intend to escalate the incident and want a peaceful resolution.

The Daily Beast reported the standoff with the “Moorish Americans” were attempting to “travel peacefully” to their “private land” to camp and “train.”

The spokesman said repeatedly on video that they were not hostile and were not “anti-police” or “anti-government.”

He also said they are not “Black-identity extremists,” the Daily Beast reported.

Shortly before noon on Saturday, State Police officials tweeted they arrested a total of 11 suspects. They did not indicate what, if any, charges the 11 suspects would face.

NBC 10 in Boston reported:

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 antigovernment 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.

According to the FBI:

Sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.

Col. Mason would not specifically say the suspects were “sovereign citizens,” but went on to say that it is not unusual for his officers to encounter people with “sovereign citizen ideology.”

“We train to those encounters,” Mason said. “We very much understand, I guess, the philosophy that underlies that mindset.”

The incident appears to have come to a successful conclusion with the arrest of the 11 suspects.

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