The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The ‘Moorish Sovereign Citizen’ Menace

Posted on | April 30, 2024 | Comments Off on The ‘Moorish Sovereign Citizen’ Menace

Say hello to William Hardison of Pittsburgh and, while you’re at it, go ahead and say goodbye, because he died last August in a six-hour shootout with police “in which it is estimated thousands of rounds of ammunition were fired.” Hardison had a lengthy criminal record and some unusual legal theories:

Defense attorney T. Brent McCune, who represented Hardison in [a 2019 criminal] case, said he hadn’t spoken to Hardison since he was sentenced [to probation in 2022] but remembered his client well.
“I remember him pacing around my conference table, sweat pouring off his brow,” the attorney said, describing Hardison as “a very intense person, hard to handle, stubborn.
“It’s kind of his way or no way,” McCune said.
McCune recounted Hardison’s belief that he was a Moorish citizen.
Hardison believed that if he pulled out his Moroccan flag, it was a free pass or, as McCune described it, an “innate sovereign right to travel that the state, PennDOT, the federal government could not infringe on.”
A video posted on YouTube in May 2019 shows Hardison in a confrontation with Pittsburgh police, repeatedly telling people he is a Moor and waving a Moroccan flag out the window of a white pickup. Moorish sovereign citizens believe a fictitious 1787 treaty between the United States and Morocco grants them immunity from U.S. law, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“You got no jurisdiction over me. We are Moors,” Hardison could be heard saying in the 2019 video.

Now say hello to John Jones Bey of Indianapolis, who was arrested in August 2017 after an armed standoff with a SWAT team:

An Indianapolis man who believes the laws don’t apply to him and once sued the state for $11.5 billion was arrested Monday [August 7, 2017] after a three-hour SWAT standoff.
John Jones Bey, 52, is facing three counts of attempted murder and three counts of criminal recklessness for his alleged role in the incident that played out Monday morning in the 3400 block of Kinnear Avenue.
According to a police report of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Bey fired gunshots at three Center Township constables as they attempted to serve him an eviction order.
IMPD officers responded around 9:30 a.m. Monday, and the SWAT team was called in to assist when the armed Bey refused to leave his home.
After more than three hours, Bey peacefully surrendered, police said. No one was injured during the incident, and officers at the scene recovered the handgun that Bey is accused of firing at the constables.
According to a February decision from the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Bey considers himself a “sovereign citizen,” meaning that he does not believe the laws apply to him. He also does not believe that he can be lawfully taxed in the absence of a contract between him and the state.
Bey, who describes himself as an “Aboriginal Indigenous Moorish-American,” previously filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana what he labeled a “Writ of Mandamus.” Within it Bey was seeking to enjoin state and county officials from taxing property that he owns in Marion County.
Court documents said Bey also asked that state officials be ordered to refund the taxes that he’d paid and to compensate him for their alleged wrongs. He determined that the district court should award him $11.5 billion to cover the 40 years of taxes and the mental anguish caused by the taxation.

We shall return to the case of Mr. Bey in a moment, but first let me bring you some news from this weekend in Polk County, Florida:

Two Polk County deputies are in the ICU after being shot early Saturday by a man who Sheriff Grady Judd said was a sovereign citizen that was killed when backup deputies returned fire.
Around 12:22 a.m., a deputy assigned to Hunt Fountain Park due to its designation as a burglary hotspot noticed a vehicle there despite the park’s 10 p.m. closing time, Judd said at a news conference Saturday morning. The deputy approached the vehicle and spoke with the man inside, asking him why he was in the park, yet the sheriff said he wouldn’t cooperate.
“At this point, he’s resisting a law enforcement officer in the performance of their duty. He’s also violating a county ordinance,” Judd said. “She retreats to her vehicle and she asks for additional backup because he is resisting her. At that time, among other deputies, Lt. Chad Anderson arrives, and Deputy Sheriff Craig Smith.”
Judd said there were a total of four deputies and two trainees working the scene when the shooting occurred.
“Little did they realize at that moment in time that this was a sovereign citizen. He was Moorish, and Moorish sovereign citizens are known to believe that federal law, state law, local law does not apply to them. They are known to resist law enforcement and there is a history where they shoot police officers,” Judd said. “So they started trying to take our suspect out of the vehicle when he produced the gun and started shooting.”
Lt. Anderson was shot in the arm and the bullet went into his chest while Deputy Smith suffered four gunshot wounds, Judd said.
“Lt. Anderson got some rounds off. The backup deputies shot a lot, and we don’t know how much yet, we’re in the initial stages of crime scene investigations and we can report that to you later, but we killed the suspect,” Judd said. “We killed him graveyard dead and we killed him dead in a gunfight, a firefight with our deputies who had no idea they were dealing with anyone other than someone being in the park after the park closed, being suspicious and resisting our efforts to identify why they were in the area.”

Monday, Sheriff Judd identified the deceased suspect as 26-year-old California native Kyran Caples, a/k/a “Kmac El Bey”:

Judd went on to say that the suspect was homeless and had recently been evicted from Hillsborough County and was recently asked to leave a business area in Pinellas County last month.
When investigators contacted the suspect’s mother she said she didn’t know Kmac El Bey. Instead, she said she knows Kyran Caples, her son. She told investigators that he went to Fresno State to study business and left after three years.
“He was apparently radicalized at Fresno State,” Judd explained.

I’ve written several times about the more general “sovereign citizen” threat (e.g., Chase Allen and Geronimo Kee), and in 2016 I blogged about a “Moorish” cop-killer in Louisiana:

The suspect in the fatal shooting of three Baton Rouge cops maintained a robust social media presence and a website called Convos With Cosmo in which he describes himself as a “freedom strategist, mental game coach, nutritionist, author and spiritual advisor.” . . .
[Gavin] Long officially filed paperwork in Jackson County, Missouri, last year declaring himself Cosmo Ausar Setepenra, a “sovereign citizen” of the United Washitaw De Dugdahmoundyah Mu’ur nation, a loosely affiliated network of mostly African Americans who claim to be Native American and don’t believe the U.S. government has jurisdiction over them.

From Wikipedia:

The Washitaw Nation (Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah) is an African-American group associated with the Moorish Science Temple of America who claim to be a sovereign state of Native Americans within the boundaries of the United States of America. Their name is appropriated from that of the Ouachita tribe, who are also eponymous of the Washita River and of Washita, Oklahoma. The group is part of the sovereign citizen movement, whose members generally believe that they are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state, or municipal levels.
The Washitaw Nation was headed by Verdiacee Hampton Goston (also known as Verdiacee Turner, and as Empress Verdiacee Tiari Washitaw Turner Goston El-Bey, c. 1927–2014). She was mayor of Richwood, Louisiana in 1975 and 1976, and again from 1980 to 1984, and is the author of the self-published book Return of the Ancient Ones (1993). Goston asserted that the United Nations “registers the Washitaw as indigenous people No. 215”.

These claims are entirely fictitious, a bogus mythology invented by semi-literate criminal crackpot scammers:

On the morning of March 21, 2000, the self-proclaimed “empress” of the Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah — a group that claims sovereignty over a 30 million-acre empire in Louisiana and neighboring states — was about to eat breakfast when the doorbell rang.
On her doorstep were armed agents from the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Customs Service and the State Police. Acting on search warrants, agents seized a variety of documents in connection with an investigation regarding income tax evasion, mail fraud and wire fraud. . . .
[Verdiacee] Gotson confirmed agents seized a variety of documents available to people who seek citizenship in the Washitaw Nation. Washitaw passports, marriage licenses, drivers’ licenses and birth certificates were available for purchase by Washitaw citizens. A full membership in the Washitaw Nation cost up to $520 per person at the time of the raid, according to reports.
Goston claimed the legitimacy of her claims had been recognized by agencies such as World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the State of Louisiana.

There is no basis in fact for the assertion that black people in Louisiana (or anywhere else) are descended from the Ouachita tribe (or any other Native American group), nor that they are “Moors” from Morocco (or Mauritania for that matter). All these claims were invented for fraudulent purposes, e.g., the scam of selling fictitious “citizenship” for $520.

As previously promised, we now return to John Jones Bey of Indianapolis, who filed a federal lawsuit claiming to be owed $11 billion — yes, billion, with a “B” — a suit that was laughed out of court, and rejected on appeal by the Seventh Circuit. In dismissing the case, Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner wrote about “persons describing themselves as sovereign citizens by virtue of their alleged Moorish origin”:

Most of them are African Americans who belong to the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) and claim to be descendants of the Moors of northern Africa, though they are not; Moors are of mixed Berber and Arab descent rather than being African American in the usual sense of being descended from black Africans. The original purpose of MSTA, founded in the 1920s by Noble Drew Ali, whose followers call themselves “Moors” in place of more conventional designations such as “Black,” “African American,” and “colored,” was to claim government “recognition and respect as full citizens rather than the second-class descendants of slaves.” . . . MSTA focuses on “uplifting” its followers, and encourages them to vote in U.S. elections so that they can escape “political slavery.” . . .
The MSTA home office, located in Washington D.C., has issued a statement clarifying that the organization is neither “a Sovereign Citizen movement [n]or a Tax Protestor Movement” and that it was not founded “for its members to become anarchist or conspiracy theorist[s].” . . . A MSTA temple in Georgia denounces sovereign-citizen propaganda as “completely asinine” and asks that Moors not “adopt[?] the ideals of these European groups who at their core, hate [Moors’] very existence.” . . .
But clearly, sovereign-citizen ideas appeal to many [self-described] Moors, who combine those ideas with Ali’s teachings in an effort to reclaim and rewrite black history. For example, the “Moors Order of the Roundtable” uses eighteenth-century treaties with Morocco to distinguish “Free Moors” from Africans who could be enslaved and teaches that courts have no jurisdiction over Moors. Nelson, ‘Sovereigns’ in Black, supra. Other groups claim that their Moorish nationality gives them the status in the United States of an indigenous people, although the logic behind this claim is deeply obscure.. . . Renita Bey teaches that Europeans are latecomers and Moors never granted them citizenship. . . . She teaches her followers that they are “Muurs” from “Muu” who traveled to North America before Africans did, when the world had only one continent. Many sovereign citizen organizations teach that whenever a Moor’s name is spelled in capital letters in a government document, the name identifies not the individual but instead his “corporate shell identity,” or in other words a “straw man” controlled by the government. . . .
Although the Moorish Science Temple does not buy the “sovereign citizen” line, many of its members do. Many of them argue, without any basis in fact, that as a result of eighteenth-century treaties the United States has no jurisdiction over its Moorish inhabitants, who are therefore under no obligation to pay taxes.

This is a fairly concise summary of the “Moorish” mythology, which appeals primarily to ignorant and/or mentally unbalanced people. These credulous fools are flattered by the grandiose conception of themselves as being something superior to ordinary black people, rather like certain white supremacists who fancy themselves the rightful heirs of the Knights Templar or some other aristocratic medieval order.

Preferring a bogus mythology over actual history is irrational, pointing toward deep-rooted psychiatric problems. Crazy ideas attract crazy people, making it difficult to unravel cause and effect. Does this “Moorish” nonsense make people crazy, or were they crazy to begin with? Probably it’s a little of both, but the bottom line is, by the time one of these imaginary “Moors” gets into a confrontation with law enforcement, there’s a risk of deadly violence, because Crazy People Are Dangerous.


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