MEDFORD, Mass. — Two more people charged in connection with an armed standoff along a Massachusetts highway last weekend were arraigned on Wednesday under heavy security.
The defendants, 10 men and a 17-year-old juvenile, say they are members of a group called Rise of the Moors, and are not subject to federal or state laws.
Not guilty pleas to firearms and other charges were entered on behalf of Conrad Pierre, and another man who has so far refused to identify himself to authorities and is referred to in court documents as John Doe 2.
Pierre, 29, of Baldwin, New York, was held without bail pending a hearing Friday to determine whether he is a danger to society after claiming he does not fall under the court’s jurisdiction.
Several members of the group during sometimes contentious arraignments Tuesday that were often interrupted by their supporters have similar hearings scheduled for Friday.
Pierre’s court-appointed attorney questioned whether probable cause exists to charge him with the gun offenses. Many members of the group refused the help of public defenders when offered on Tuesday.
The judge delayed the completion of John Doe 2’s arraignment until Friday, at which time he’ll be required to provide identifying information to the court.
The standoff started just after 1 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 95 in Wakefield when a State Police trooper stopped to offer assistance to two vehicles parked on the side of the highway to refuel.
The men, who were dressed in military-style clothing and body armor and were armed with long guns and pistols, did not have licenses to carry firearms in Massachusetts, police said.
The self-described leader of the group said they were a militia traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for “training” on private land, although the exact nature of the training remains unclear, according to the police report.
Several members of the group ran into woods, starting an hourslong standoff and forcing the shutdown of a major Boston-area highway during the busy holiday weekend. The standoff ended peacefully without gunfire when members of the group surrendered after negotiations.
State police say they recovered three AR-15 rifles, two pistols, a bolt-action rifle, a shotgun and a short-barrel rifle and ammunition on Saturday.
A court-authorized search of the vehicles turned up at least eight more guns, including handguns, rifles and a shotgun, many of them loaded, as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and other equipment.
Rise of the Moors, based in Rhode Island, contend they are “foreign nationals” and outside the authority of the U.S. government.
Even though the Southern Poverty Law Center says the group is part of a Moorish sovereign citizen movement, the group says on its website that they are not sovereign citizens, but the original sovereigns of the U.S. based on a 1789 letter from George Washington to the sultan of Morocco.