State police have arrested 11 “heavily armed” men from a group “that does not recognize our laws” who caused highway shutdowns and shelter-in place orders in Wakefield after they fled into the woods after an encounter with cops, authorities said.
State Police Col. Christopher Mason told reporters earlier in the morning that one of his troopers saw some vehicles in the breakdown lane at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, and pulled over to see what was going on. The trooper saw that the group of “eight to 10” people, dressed to the nines in “military-style” tactical gear and armed to the teeth with long guns and handguns, was refueling their two vehicles, he said.
The trooper asked the men for their drivers licenses and licenses to carry, which the men either didn’t have or didn’t provide, he said.
Police arrested two of the men without incident early in the morning, Mason said around 8:30 a.m. The following seven arrests came by 10:30 a.m., and then cops sweeping the area found and arrested two more in the group’s vehicles. Police said all suspects had been taken into custody, ending the bizarre incident.
He said cops — who described this as a “dangerous incident” — contained the men to the woods off of I-95. Negotiators were on site and were having what Mason characterized as “productive” discussions with the group. He didn’t elaborate on what they wanted.
Staties said that the “heavily armed men” were “claiming to be from a group that does not recognize our laws.” Mason said the men said they were on their way from Rhode Island to Maine for a “quote-unquote ‘training.'”
Police did say the men didn’t make any threats, but added, “these men should be considered armed and dangerous.” Cops asked residents near the scene in Wakefield and Reading to lock their doors and remain in their homes.
Mason noted that his troopers receive training in dealing with “sovereign-citizen” cases, where people believe they aren’t subject to laws.
Mason said the staties are aware that the people are posting on social media under the name “Rise of the Moors.” The latest video shows a man decked out in military gear insisting that “we’re not anti-government, we’re not anti-police, we’re not sovereign citizens, we’re not Black identity extremists.” Locating himself in “the colony of Massachusetts,” he insisted in one of the videos that his nation — he pointed to a large Moroccan flag two of his compatriots were carrying — has a treaty with the United States.
The man in the video said that “the militia is exempt from certain restrictions.”
An email on the Rise of the Moors website, which links to the YouTube page, didn’t immediately garner comment. The ADL lists the “growing” Moorish movement as a Black offshoot of the sovereign citizen cause.
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