Jamhal Latimer, left, one of 11 people charged in connection with an armed standoff along a Massachusetts highway last weekend, appears during his arraignment at Malden District Court, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Medford, Mass. Credit: Suzanne Kreiter / The Boston Globe via AP

The leader of a heavily armed militia group that held a nine-hour standoff with Massachusetts police while traveling to Maine in July is claiming that Massachusetts infringed upon his group’s Second Amendment right to protect Maine and other “northern states” from domestic terrorism or a foreign invasion.

Jamhal Latimer, the leader of Rhode Island-based militia group Rise of the Moors, filed a handwritten complaint in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts last week naming Massachusetts’  attorney general, governor, state legislature and judiciary as defendants.

Latimer and his 10 fellow defendants were arrested over the July 4 weekend on firearms charges after engaging in a nine-hour standoff on I-95 with Massachusetts State Police near Wakefield. A trooper had pulled over to assist the Moors, who had pulled over to the side of the road to refuel. At least some of the group’s members were wearing military-style uniforms and had long guns and pistols.

They said they were driving to the Bangor area for “training.”

Latimer, also known as Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey, cited a number of legal cases to bolster his claim that militias like Rise of the Moors have the right to travel unimpeded to respond to “a foreign invasion from the Northern States, or an act of domestic terrorism in the northern States, such as Maine.”  

Latimer filed his complaint on a yellow legal pad, as he’s currently held at the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction in Billerica, Massachusetts. He signed the complaint as a “proud American citizen,” “a Moroccan national” and “mentally free Moor.”

Latimer did not name any specific threats to Maine.

Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun control laws in the U.S., including an assault weapons ban, which Latimer, a retired Marine, said presented a “grave threat to the fundamental right to self-defense.”

“The Massachusetts statutes strike at the core and very heart of the Second Amendment and heavily burdens the preservation, efficiency and effectiveness of a constitutional militia by  making it a crime for a militia to train, travel through, and exist as a militia in accordance to the laws, customs and regulations of war,” he said in his nine-page complaint.

The laws would “have a direct negative effect and impact on the response time, ability, effectiveness and efficiency of any militia trying to help the situation” in case of any invasion or domestic terrorist act in Maine or other northern states, Latimer said.

Militia members would have to drive around Massachusetts, delaying their response, or turn in “their standard and high capacity magazines before the militiamen can ever do their job in protecting the constitutional union.”

Latimer is demanding compensation of $1,000 per day for every day he’s been in custody since his July 3 arrest, dismissal of all charges, and personal written and public apologies from District Court Judge Emily Karstetter, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Massachusetts state trooper and Attorney General Maura Healey.

Law enforcement officials have been unable to determine a connection to Maine among any members of the group. The group had been traveling in two vehicles with unregistered Maine license plates.

Rise of the Moors is part of the Moorish sovereign citizen movement, which claims that Black Americans are Indigenous Moroccan nationals and aren’t subject to U.S. law. The Moorish Science Temple of America has disavowed the group.

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Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.