EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A tense standoff on Saturday in Massachusetts between police and a group of armed suspects shut down part of I-95 north of Boston on the busy Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason said the men identified themselves as being part of a group known as “Rise of the Moors.”
Law Enforcement Analyst Col. Steven O’Donnell said that group has been on law enforcement radars since the 1990s.
According to O’Donnell, “Rise of the Moors” believe their ancestors came from Morocco and therefore they do not have to answer to U.S. law, which O’Donnell said poses a big threat.
“They don’t t believe they have to pay taxes, listen to the courts, listen to the government, listen to any laws, and that’s certainly not the case and obviously, they found out that wasn’t accurate,” he explained.
Massachusetts State Police said all of the suspects were charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, use of body armor in commission of a crime, possession of a high capacity magazine, improper storage of firearms in a vehicle, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
O’Donnell credits Massachusetts State Police for how they handled the situation with the armed men, saying it could have been a very different story.
“If you look at history with these type of, and I would call them ‘sovereign citizens groups,’ they’ve turned lethal for law enforcement in different places around the country. This, luckily, didn’t turn that way,” he said.
O’Donnell said this incident isn’t unusual, especially after a major economic event like the pandemic.
“There’s been major issues with the economy, or this is the best example of a major issue, we just had a pandemic, so the economy turned pretty sour, there’s some angry people, and that always spurs some anti government rhetoric and things like that,” O’Donnell said.
And he warns that groups like “The Rise of the Moors” pose a threat to organizations looking to be recognized.
“So there’s a whole indigenous movement out of Rhode Island and other states to be recognized by our government but they’re doing it through a process,” O’Donnell said. “They’re legally trying to find data and have lawyers and they’re working with the state and federal governments to figure out how they go about living within the rules of this country.”