After a standoff, 11 members of an armed group of men were arrested for claiming to be above the law.
The men ‘claim to be members of a group that does not recognize our laws,’ Wakefield police said.
After a standoff with police in Massachusetts that shut down a major highway during the busy holiday weekend and prompted shelter-in-place orders, police arrested 11 members of an armed group of men who claimed to “not recognize our laws.”
The bizarre incident occurred Saturday morning in Wakefield, about ten miles north of Boston, when a state trooper observed a group of eight to ten men dressed in military-style uniforms refueling their vehicle on the shoulder of 1-95 around 1:30 a.m.
The men – who wore tactical gear such as body cameras and helmets and slung long guns over their shoulders – informed the trooper that they were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for “training.”
Two arrests were made during the traffic stop. The remainder of the group fled into a wooded area, identifying themselves as “Moorish American Arms.” By 10:45 a.m. local time, nine suspects had been apprehended, and two additional suspects were discovered in their vehicles.
The standoff forced the closure of a portion of I-95 in Wakefield in both directions, resulting in heavy traffic during the Fourth of July weekend. It is still partially shut.
Wakefield and nearby Reading residents were advised to lock their doors and seek shelter in place. According to Wakefield police, no threats were made, but the men were considered armed and dangerous. There have been no reports of injuries or shots fired.
According to Massachusetts officials, the group asserted that it “does not recognize our laws.” ABC News has contacted federal officials to ascertain whether or not this group has a history of extremism.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Moorish sovereign citizen movement is a “collection of independent organizations and lone individuals” that “espouse an interpretation of sovereign doctrine according to which African Americans constitute an elite class within American society with special rights and privileges that confer sovereign immunity on them, putting them above federal and state authority.”
It is unknown whether the group involved in the Wakefield standoff adheres to this doctrine.
“Members of the Moorish sovereigns, commonly referred to as Moors, have run afoul of federal and state authorities due to their refusal to obey laws and government regulations. Moorish sovereign citizens have recently been involved in violent clashes with law enforcement “in accordance with the SPLC.
A Los Angeles man who identified himself as a Moorish sovereign was arrested in Newark, New Jersey, last month after barricading himself inside a woman’s home and declaring it his ancestral property.