Massachusetts Police Standoff

July 4, 2021

You can imagine 11 armed individuals standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at 2 in the morning certainly raises concerns and is not consistent with the firearms laws that we have in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason on Saturday’s hours-long standoff between heavily armed men and police on Interstate 95.
  • The hours-long standoff resulted in the shutdown of portions of the interstate, impacting travel in the early morning hours of the holiday weekend. Col. Mason explained that the men were in violation of various state laws, such as not carrying firearm licenses, as they were reportedly on their way to Maine for "training."
    • 11 men were arrested on various charges, including unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, use of body armor in commission of a crime, and possession of a high capacity magazine. They are expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
  • The men are believed to be members of a group called the Rise of the Moors, who adhere to “Moorish Sovereign Ideology.” Their website states, "We are Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our Elders."
    • Retired FBI special agent Ken Gray said the group believes in a treaty between the U.S. and Morocco. Gray said the treaty doesn't exist, but "they claim there was a treaty that allowed them to operate in the country without being citizens of the country."
    • Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism senior research fellow Mark Pitcavage said that "many sovereign citizen groups are armed, but very few of them actually engage in paramilitary activity like a militia group would … this appears to be one of the rare exceptions.”
  • In live streams of the standoff, one of the group's members said the group was "abiding by the peaceful journey laws of the United States," adding that they are not anti-government, anti-police or "Black identity extremists."
    • Col. Mason said the police investigation will provide "more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is.”

by Jenna Lee,