Outside I-95 Standoff Court Hearing, Group's Supporters Assert It Has Rights

Members of the Rise of the Moors who were not present at the Saturday incident turned out at Malden District Court to support the men who were arrested

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Supporters of the men involved in the standoff this weekend in Wakefield, Massachusetts, said outside of court Tuesday that the confrontation with state police never should have gone that far.

"Everyone wears military gear," said Rise of the Moors member Leonidas Jabir Bey. "Is it illegal to wear military gear in America?"

Members of the Rise of the Moors who were not present at the Saturday incident turned out at Malden District Court to support the men who were arrested.

"You're in a state where the crime is down," said Bey. "The officers are bored."

The father of one of Wakefield suspects is speaking out after Saturday's police standoff.

Watchdog groups say the Rise of the Moors group follows a sovereign citizen ideology and tends to operate outside some laws.

Bey explained it as being "about individuals and the pursuit of happiness, trying to live life. I didn't know it was such a big deal."

Members of the group said that, despite the criminal charges they face, the 10 men and one teenager who were arrested while the group traveled from Rhode Island to Maine on Saturday weren't breaking any laws.

"There's something called the Second Amendment," said one woman, who declined to provide her name. "You have the right to bear arms, you have the right to have a militia."

The supporters would not go into specifics about what the group was training for.

One of the group's members wore a swastika, but said its meaning has been corrupted.

"It's a swastika," said Rashad Bey. "Sanskrit for good being."

Inside the courtroom, seven of the 11 people arrested in the standoff were arraigned, though not without disruption -- some refused to cooperate during their hearings. They were held without bail on weapons charges pending a dangerous hearing on Friday, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office said.

Police have identified eight of the 11 suspects who were arrested after an hours long armed standoff with police off Interstate 95 in Wakefield, Massachusetts, Saturday. All of them claimed to be part of a group called the Rise of the Moors.

Two other men will be arraigned Wednesday, another man who refused to give his name is being held pending his identification, with his first possible hearing date on Friday. And the 17-year-old arrested in the standoff will be arraigned later, prosecutors said.

All the men face charges of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, the use of body armor while committing a crime, possessing a large-capacity weapon, improperly storing guns in a vehicle and conspiracy, prosecutors said. Five of them were also charged with giving police a false identity.

The arraignments were delayed after the people allegedly refused to speak with their court-appointed lawyers.

The standoff began early Saturday when a Massachusetts State Police trooper stopped to offer assistance to the vehicles he found on the side of the highway in the town of Wakefield. Police later said they were refueling. The trooper called for backup and most of the group went into the nearby woods until they surrendered to a police tactical team just after 10 a.m.

People in Wakefield and Reading had to shelter in place for hours Saturday morning as police searched for armed men.

The standoff closed I-95 in the area during the busy holiday weekend and some area residents were told to shelter in place.

During the standoff one member of the group broadcast on a social media account of the group Rise of the Moors that they were not antigovernment or anti-police. The website for the group says they are "Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our Elders.''

The Southern Poverty Law Center's website says the Moorish sovereign citizen movement is a collection of independent organizations and individuals that emerged in the 1990s as an offshoot of the antigovernment sovereign citizens' movement. People in the movement believe individual citizens hold sovereignty over, and are independent of, the authority of federal and state governments.

It is not clear if Rise of the Moors is specifically affiliated with that movement.

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