An arraignment for 11 defendants in an armed standoff case began on a chaotic note Tuesday when a member of the group “Rise of the Moors” claimed to be a “foreign national” and declined a lawyer.
Ten men and one 17-year-old affiliated with Rise of the Moors are accused of leading an hours-long armed standoff with police in Massachusetts on Saturday. The group is associated with the Moorish Sovereign Citizen movement, a conspiratorial set whose loosely affiliated members often preach that, via a nonexistent treaty with Morocco, Black people (adherents prefer the term Moors) are secretly governed by their own set of rules and, as such, enjoy special legal privileges. Although the Rise of the Moors’ leader denied being a sovereign citizen group in a video during the standoff, statements from group member Quinn Cumberlander during the arraignment appeared straight out of sovereign citizens’ dubious legal handbook. Cumberlander reportedly objected to the use of his legal name, stated that he was a foreign national, and asked to represent himself. He also raised objections to his charges as they were read, and denied having committed a crime.
The group is facing gun charges after they allegedly ran into the woods when police saw them stopped on the side of a highway with guns. The group says they were traveling interstate for a training exercise, and pulled off the road when they ran out of gas.
A co-defendant, Robert Rodriguez, reportedly named as his legal counsel another member of the group, who was not a lawyer. Another co-defendant reportedly objected to having his name read, asking to instead be referred to as “John Doe #1.”
“I am a free Moor, a national, a free, living man,” he reportedly told the court.