A standoff between police and members of an armed militia group near Wakefield, Massachusetts, forced a shutdown of parts of Interstate 95 on Saturday morning. Nine men have been arrested, officials say.
According to the police, authorities first noticed the group refilling their vehicles with gas on the side of the highway early Saturday morning. The men, in military gear, initially refused to put down their weapons or provide identification, and some fled into the woods.
The event, which lasted several hours with no reported gun shots or injuries, was apparently partially captured on camera by a member of the group, which calls themselves the Rise of the Moors, and live-streamed on YouTube Saturday morning, the Daily Beast reports. “We’re not anti-government, we’re not anti-police,” he says in the video, “and we’re willing to give them any information they need so that way we can continue with our peaceful journey.”
According to the Rise of the Moors’ website, the Daily Beast reports, the group is dedicated to “educating new Moors and influencing our Elders.” There’s more:
The Southern Poverty Law Center says that several organizations and lone people have identified with the Moorish sovereign citizen movement in the U.S. since the 1990s. The movement is associated with the anti-government sovereign citizens movement, and some Moorish sovereigns have come into conflict with federal and state governments over their refusal to obey laws. They believe that African Americans “constitute an elite class within American society with special rights,” SPLC writes.