Members of the “Rise of the Moors” armed militia appeared in a Massachusetts court Tuesday after being charged with multiple crimes over the Independence Day weekend. The defendants denied the court’s jurisdiction and claimed to have committed no crimes.
Massachusetts State Police arrested 11 people on Saturday who allegedly claimed to be members of a group known as the “Rise of the Moors,” Breitbart Texas reported. The arrests followed an hours-long standoff with the armed members on Interstate 95 near Wakefield after suspects reportedly said they do not “recognize our laws.”
In court Wednesday, Conrad Pierre, 29, of Baldwin, New York, was combative and verbally jousted with the judge about whether he would have a lawyer for the arraignment. Pierre also made claims that he does not fall under the court’s jurisdiction.
What do we know about the “Rise of the Moors?”
1: Who are the identified members of the group?
2: What charges do the arrested members face following the nine-hour standoff?
According to the Boston Herald, the men are charged with the following in a Massachusetts court:
- Eight counts of unlawful possession of a firearm;
- Unlawful possession of ammunition;
- Possession of a high-capacity magazine;
- Use of body armor in commission of a crime;
- Improper storage of firearms in a vehicle; and,
- Conspiracy to commit a crime.
- Three of the men, and a 17-year-old male, also face charges of supplying a false name to police.
3: The members of the group claim the government has no jurisdiction over their affairs.
During a Zoom hearing, multiple members of the group claimed the court has no jurisdiction over them, the Boston Herald report continued. Several members provided fake names. Two refused to provide any names at all. During the nine-hour standoff, the members of the group told police they were not carrying gun licenses and they did not recognize state laws, The Washington Post reported.
4: Possible connection to ‘Moorish Sovereign’ groups.
The “Rise of the Moors” is based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, according to its website. The Washington Post reports a claim from Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, that the men who were arrested are “adherents of the ‘Moorish Sovereign Citizens.’” They are part of a group that reportedly believes they are part of a sovereign nation and are thus not subject to U.S. law.
From the Rise of the Moors website:
Moors are not ‘Sovereign Citizens’, as sovereignty does not stand alone, sovereignty and nationality can be considered synonymous. The record show that the Moors are the organic or original sovereigns of this land – America. When we declare our nationality as Moorish Americans we are taking back the position as the aboriginal people of the land, to which the sovereign power is vested in.
5: Claims by the group about police, government, and violence during the armed standoff with state police.
A spokesman for the Rise of the Moors posted claims on social media that “We’re not anti-government, we’re not anti-police, we’re not sovereign citizens, we’re not Black-identity extremists.” During the video, he repeatedly told the officers they would do nothing to escalate the situation or threaten the officers.