Police in Massachusetts say they’ve arrested 11 heavily armed members of a group called “Rise of the Moors” following an hours-long standoff in the middle of a highway Saturday morning, forcing two towns to ask residents to shelter in place.
Early Saturday morning, police encountered almost a dozen men with guns and tactical gear on the side of Rt. 128 north of Boston, and after police shut down the highway, the men refused to put down their weapons, leading to a standoff with the group for more than eight hours, Massachusetts State Police spokesperson David Procopio told Forbes.
Police arrested two men from the group after 6:30 a.m., and nine more were taken into custody after 10:30 a.m., fully clearing the highway.
Procopio says the men identified themselves as members of “Rise of the Moors,” which describes itself as a group of Moorish Americans who see themselves as the aboriginal residents of North America, according to the group’s website.
State police say the group indicated it “does not recognize our laws.”
In a video posted to the Rise of the Moors’ apparent YouTube account Saturday morning, a man who appeared to be part of the standoff insisted the group does not identify as an anti-government or a sovereign citizen organization.
What To Watch For
The State Police say they’re sweeping two vehicles belonging to the group and searching a wooded area near the highway. The highway is still partially closed.
Police asked residents of Wakefield and Reading, two suburban towns, to shelter in place early Saturday morning, but the advisory was lifted after police arrested all of the men.
Based in Rhode Island, the Rise of the Moors say they follow the religious teachings of Noble Drew Ali, a North Carolina man who founded the Moorish Science Temple in the early 20th century. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, some groups affiliated with the Moorish Science Temple are Black nationalist “sovereign citizens” who reject the U.S. government’s authority, though not all members identify with the extremist sovereign citizen movement, and the Moorish Science Temple has denounced anti-government ideologies.