Armed “Moors” at I-95 deadlock plead not guilty, deny court authority

Several men associated with a group of black sovereign citizens who led an hour-long standoff with Massachusetts state police over the holiday weekend battled gun charges in court on Tuesday.

Seven of the 11 men have been brought to justice, all pleading not guilty charges related to improperly stored firearms after the standoff on I-95. Many have identified themselves as linked to Rise of the Moors, a group of black sovereign citizens, on social media.

Malden District Court Judge Emily Karstetter has heard the same argument from many men: that they are not US citizens subject to federal or state law and that they ask to be released.

An accused, who refused to disclose his name to authorities, told the court the process was unfair.

“What you are doing right now is wrong, it’s wrong,” he said. “It’s my life you’re playing with here.” It’s my life. I respect the Constitution.

The Ascension of the Moors is part of a Sovereign Moors movement which is largely black. Its members believe they are exempt from U.S. law under the 1786 Moroccan-American Friendship Treaty, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the group.

Rachel Goldwasser, who studies Sovereign and Anti-Government Citizen Groups at the Alabama Legal Center, said court proceedings are in line with what will happen when members of different sovereign citizen movement groups are brought to justice.

“What they believe is that they are not citizens of the United States of America as we know them,” Goldwasser said. “[Rise of the Moors] believe they have their own territory, which is essentially what we would think of as Rhode Island, and that they are the inhabitants of that territory. So in their minds, they don’t think they have to comply with either law enforcement, court or any other public official. “

The Moors’ numbers are unknown, but the Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked its online presence and found that its YouTube channel has 17,000 subscribers, up from 5,000 last year.

“You can imagine that’s a pretty big increase in the number of people who see their rhetoric and potentially, you know, believe it and decide to participate in their activities – or copy their behavior,” Goldwasser said.

The Southern Pavery Law Center has no evidence that Rise of the Moors is a violent group.

“They have not been, to our knowledge, violent in the past, but they are extremely supportive of owning and carrying firearms and this has been around for a long time,” Goldwasser said, adding that they could be. potentially caused by violence. But the fact that the group did not react violently to the prolonged standoff with police in Massachusetts on Saturday is a good sign, Goldwasser said. “They won’t necessarily be violent in a confrontation if they weren’t in this one,”

Legal defenses that are based on the claim that laws or constitutional principles do not apply to particular groups have been “uniformly rejected” by the courts over the past decades, said Daniel Medwed, legal analyst at GBH. Morning edition Tuesday.

“Maybe the gist of the claim is that there is a treaty or some other exemption that applies to a particular group,” Medwed said. “This is a very tense and selective interpretation of the law, and it fundamentally rejects what is called the supremacy clause – section six, term two of our Constitution – which says that federal law is supreme. So I think, without necessarily getting into the weeds too much, that probably doesn’t have much merit.

Some defendants have refused to be represented by a lawyer and all are being held pending a dangerous hearing on Friday.

About Charles D. Goolsby

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