At Malden District Court, Aaron Johnson is arraigned on July 6, 2021, in Medford, Mass., resulting from the hours long I-95 highway stand off July 3. Credit: Suzanne Kreiter / The Boston Globe via AP, Pool

Eleven members of an armed militia that held a standoff with Massachusetts state police on I-95 while on their way to Maine have yet to go to trial more than a year after they were arrested on firearms charges.

Members of Rise of the Moors, a Rhode Island-based group, were arrested around 1:30 a.m. on July 3, 2021, after a state police officer saw them refueling on the side of the highway and stopped to assist them.

The trooper discovered that none of the men had drivers’ licenses and they were wearing body armor and carrying unregistered, unsecured firearms. The cars they were traveling in had unregistered Maine license plates. The troopers called for backup, after which several members fled into nearby woods, prompting shelter-in-place orders for neighboring towns until all of the Moors were arrested. A standoff with group members shut down a busy highway on a holiday weekend.  

The group’s leader, Jamhal Latimer, told troopers that he and his members were on their way to the Bangor area, where they owned land, and were planning to conduct “training.”

Latimer, who goes by Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey, also said that the Moors were exempt from firearm licensing laws because they were a militia.

Ten of the men were arraigned last July at chaotic hearings where dozens of their supporters attended remotely, heckled the judge and yelled out slogans like “Free the Moors” until they were removed.

One of the men, who was 17 when he was arrested, hasn’t been publicly identified.

The Moors were charged with illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of large-capacity firearms, improperly storing firearms, providing false information to police, conspiracy to improperly stow firearms and wearing body armor during the commission of a felony.

A handful of the men refused to identify themselves, accept the charges against them or accept legal representation, insisting that they were foreign nationals not subject to U.S. laws.

But a year later, none of them have been prosecuted yet, according to court records and the Boston Globe.

Defendants will face trials in pairs, and nine have posted bail, the Globe reported. The first trial begins in August, while others are scheduled to begin in the fall and next spring.

One defendant, Lamar Dow, who goes by Jamil Rasul Bey, was ordered to undergo psychiatric observation at Bridgewater State Hospital in late May, then ordered back to jail on June 15, according to the Globe and the Rise of the Moors’ website.

Providence, Rhode Island, police also arrested another defendant, Quinn Cumberlander, 40, in January on three felony counts of providing false information to secure a firearm or firearm license.

Cumberlander, who goes by Quinn Khabir El, pleaded not guilty last month and was released on a $15,000 surety bond, according to Kent County records.

He posted a $5,000 bond for the Massachusetts charges in March and agreed to attend hearings while staying with family in Maryland, the Globe reported.  

Latimer, who will face a jury trial on Aug. 1 with Cumberlander, has a bail hearing on July 14 in Middlesex Superior Court, the Globe reported.

Since their arrests, the Moors and their supporters have filed a handful of lawsuits against Massachusetts state officials to protest their incarceration.

Three of those suits have been dismissed, according to court records.

U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor dismissed a lawsuit late last month from three Moors supporters who had driven from Arkansas to support the Rise of the Moors at a court hearing last September when their car was towed outside of the courthouse and they were arrested.

Iyanga Bey, Demar Bey and Sha’jarah Bey sued Massachusetts state troopers for $70 million, claiming that they had witnessed the troopers commit acts of “human trafficking, depriviation of rights, extortion, genocide and financial, emotional and time-consuming inconveniences,” according to the complaint.

Police said their gray 2014 Toyota Camry didn’t have a registration, license plate or insurance; that the drivers weren’t licensed to drive; that they were carrying large-capacity firearms and ammo without a license; and that they had knowingly provided false names.

Latimer also filed two lawsuits on behalf of Rise of the Moors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, claiming defamation, discrimination and lack of jurisdiction.

He also claimed that Massachusetts’ strict gun laws hurt his group’s ability to protect Maine and other northern states from domestic terrorism or a foreign invasion.

The first case, in Rhode Island, was dismissed last August, after U.S. District Judge John J. McConnell Jr. said the federal court couldn’t intervene in state proceedings.

Judge Indira Talwani of U.S. District Court in Boston dismissed the Massachusetts case in March, citing the same reasoning as McConnell.

Rise of the Moors is part of the Moorish sovereign citizen movement, which is a collection of people who believe that they are both Moroccan nationals and aborginal Americans, and part of the broader sovereign citizen movement, whose adherents use a range of conspiracy theories to justify why they are not subject to U.S. laws, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Moorish science started as a religious movement in the 1920s that posited that Black Americans were originally Moroccan descendants and that shared some beliefs with the Nation of Islam.

Some believers change their last names to “El” or “Bey” to reflect their Moorish heritage.

The leader of the Moorish Science Temple of America, in Atlanta, denounced the Rise of the Moors last year, however.

Correction: A previous version of this story has been updated to reflect that the militia has been prosecuted.

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Lia Russell

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