Bizarre series of hearings for 'Rise of the Moors' members in Massachusetts highway standoff case

A group of men accused of gun crimes in connection with a long, tense highway standoff in Massachusetts over the weekend filed through a courtroom in a series of bizarre hearings.


Some of the 11 men accused of gun crimes in connection with a long, tense highway standoff in Massachusetts over the weekend filed through a courtroom in a series of bizarre hearings Tuesday afternoon.

Ten men and one 17-year-old were arrested following Saturday morning's nine-hour armed standoff on Interstate 95. Members of the group, called "Rise of the Moors," livestreamed their interaction with law enforcement on YouTube.

After several hours of delays, the first to be arraigned in court was Quinn Cumberlander, 40, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The judge eventually agreed to allow him to appear for the hearing without an attorney.

Cumberlander described his group as a "well-regulated militia" and said he was not opposed to the law. As he began describing Saturday's events, the judge reminded him that all statements can be used against him as evidence at trial.

Prosecutors asked the judge to hold Cumberlander and the others pending dangerousness hearings.

"Nothing inside me wants to do harm to anyone else," Cumberlander said.

The judge ordered him to be held without bail and set the dangerousness hearing for Friday.

The next defendant to enter the courtroom was Robert Rodriguez, 21, of Bronx, New York. He initially asked that a fellow defendant serve as his attorney, but the judge noted the man is not a licensed lawyer and asked Rodriguez to speak privately with an attorney before deciding how to proceed.

He also refused to be interviewed by Probation.

"I was seen by a probation officer," Rodriguez said. "But I did not commit a crime."

Next, a defendant identified as John Doe No. 1 entered the courtroom. He has refused to provide his real name to authorities and told the judge, "I am a free Moor, a national, a free, living man."

Prosecutors asked that he be ordered to submit to fingerprinting.

John Doe No. 1 was later ordered out of the courtroom because of repeated disruptions and required to watch the proceedings from the courthouse lockup.

After a break, Wilfredo Hernandez, 23, of the Bronx and Jamhal Tavon Sanders Latimer, a.k.a. Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey, 29, of Providence, R.I. were next.

Bey told the judge he wanted to represent himself, but when asked if he understood the purpose of lawyers, he responded, "no." The judge required Bey to have an attorney for the hearing.

Lamar Dow, 34, of the Bronx, was represented by an attorney who argued that Dow was not mentioned in the prosecution's probable cause statement. The state argued that he was involved in a joint venture with the other defendants and the judge found probable cause to hold him until Friday's hearing.

Aaron Lamont Johnson a.k.a. Tarrif Sharif Bey, 29, of Detroit, Mich. was next, but his arraignment was repeatedly interrupted by spectators, causing the judge to call a recess.

There was a large and visible police presence outside of court, especially when the Middlesex County sheriff's transport van carrying members of the group arrived.

Family members of the defendants and fellow "Rise of the Moors" members were also gathered at the court.

The situation began Saturday when a Massachusetts State Police trooper spotted two vehicles in the breakdown lane with their hazard lights activated on I-95 north at about 1:30 a.m. and stopped to offer assistance, according to MSP Superintendent Col. Christopher Mason.

Mason said the trooper observed a group of eight to 10 men trying to refuel a vehicle and saw they were wearing tactical-style gear. They were armed with a combination of rifles and pistols.

When the men were asked why they were wearing tactical-style gear, Mason said they told the trooper that they were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine for "training."

The trooper asked the men for identification and firearms licenses and when the men said they did not have them available, the trooper called for backup, according to Mason.

"At some point during this interaction, a number of those individuals alight into the wood line with their firearms. A perimeter was quickly established," Mason said.

The group does not identify as United States citizens and does not obey U.S. laws. None of the men had licenses to carry firearms, but state police said they recovered at least eight guns at the scene, including three AR-15s.

The leader of the group Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey said on social media the members were on their way from Rhode Island to Maine for "training."

Abdullah Bey’s father spoke with sister station WCVB and said his son does not promote violence.

"My son is a kind person. He doesn't have any ill will. He's not a terrorist," Steven Latimer said.

Latimer adds that his son served four years as a communications specialist in the Marines then worked in computers and farming. He said his son changed his last name to Abdullah Bey when he joined Rise of the Moors.

The men who were arraigned Tuesday are being held without bail and will again appear before a judge Friday for dangerousness hearings.

The remaining men charged in connection with the standoff are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.