A group of gunmen from a militia group called Rise of the Moors closed a freeway outside Boston for more than nine hours on Saturday morning after allegedly refusing to comply with police orders and complying fled into the woods with guns.
The group says on their website that they are “Moorish Americans dedicated to educating the New Moors and influencing our Elders.” In YouTube videos of the incident, they claimed they were only trying to travel peacefully to their “private land” to camp and “train” on Saturday. CBS Boston reported that they were heading from Rhode Island to Maine.
Massachusetts State Police said a soldier saw two cars on the side of I-95 around 1:30 a.m. with the hazard lights on, trying to add gas to their tanks.
When the officer stopped to help them, they noticed that the men were wearing military clothing and had a lot of guns. The soldier applied for driver’s licenses and firearms licenses, but the men reportedly refused to provide or lay down their weapons. The soldier called for reinforcements but some of the men fled, police said.
In a video broadcast live on the group’s YouTube page, a member of the group, dressed in camouflage gear, said they were traveling with gas tanks to refuel their cars in order to avoid “making unnecessary stops” that could “alert or alarm the public.”
He claimed they did not break any laws because they were legally allowed to own firearms in the state they were traveling from.
He claimed they asked officers to explain what their probable cause was, and a sergeant allegedly said he didn’t know.
“We don’t intend to be hostile, we don’t intend to be aggressive,” he said, adding that they are not “anti-police” or “extremists. of black identity “.
“Our nation has a treaty with your government,” the man said, pointing to another man standing on the highway, holding what appeared to be a Moroccan flag. He said they were immune to state laws.
“We are not against the government, we are not against the police and we are ready to give them all the information they need so that we can continue our peaceful journey,” he continued.
The Southern Poverty Law Center states that several organizations and individuals have identified with the Moorish Sovereign Citizens movement in the United States since the 1990s. The movement is associated with the anti-government Sovereign Citizens movement, and some Moorish rulers have come into conflict with government agencies for their refusal to obey the laws. They believe that African Americans “constitute an elite class within American society with special rights,” writes the SPLC.
“Their self-proclaimed leader wanted it to be known that his ideology is not anti-government,” State Police Col. Christopher Mason said in a briefing Saturday morning.
A section of I-95 was closed in both directions and a shelter-in-place order was issued for residents of Wakefield and Reading. Large trucks were brought in to block the highway and road studs were deployed.
“We continue to engage in conversation with the suspects with the goal of defusing the situation on 95 and bringing it to a peaceful end,” Massachusetts State Police said in a tweet at 9:30 am EDT.
On Saturday afternoon, following a sweep of the woods and a nine-hour standoff that police described as “very dynamic and evolving”, the 11 members were arrested without injury and the highway was reopened. .
At a press conference after the incident ended, Mason said state police would work with the district attorney’s office and “appropriate charges” would be laid against the 11 men.
“You can imagine, 11 gunmen standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at two in the morning are certainly raising concerns and not complying with the gun laws we have here in Massachusetts.” , did he declare.
He said the men did not have gun licenses on them. Either way, he said, Massachusetts does not allow the transport of unloaded or loaded firearms on an interstate highway.
“I understand they have a different point of view on this,” he said.
He said it was not clear the group’s intention to travel on the highway, including whether it was “staged” to attract police attention.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said they were told the men were traveling to Maine from Rhode Island for “training,” but investigators have not confirmed this.
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