Across the country, sovereign citizens have tied up court dockets and filed false lawsuits, fake deeds, liens, and other documents in a ploy known as paper terrorism, according to government experts and watchdog organizations.
Ninti El-Bey, who claimed to be a sovereign citizen, was accused of taking over property that wasn’t hers in Charlotte, North Carolina. She argued that she was the rightful owner and had paperwork to prove it. Turns out the home was in foreclosure and is owned by a bank, according to Mecklenburg County property records.
Sovereign citizens see themselves as answerable only to “their particular interpretations of the common law and as not subject to any government statutes or proceeding,” according to the American Bar Association Journal. They tend to plaster the court system with bogus legal filings as part of financial gain scams.
Authorities complain that the same scenario is being played out by sovereign citizens nationwide. One sovereign organization is the Moorish Science Temple of America, and members call themselves Moors.
“From New Jersey to California, police, courthouse officials and real estate agents are being confronted with a baffling new problem: bogus legal documents filed by people claiming to follow an obscure religion called Moorish Science. Their motives range from financial gain to simply causing a nuisance,” Syracuse.com reported.
Police departments nationwide have begun training officers on how to deal with people who drive without licenses or with fake plates and who claim the police have no authority over them, The New York Times reported.
Members of the Moorish Sovereigns or Moors have come into conflict with federal and state authorities for refusing to obey laws and government regulations. Recently, Moorish sovereign citizens engaged in violent confrontations with law enforcement.
Sgt. Kory Flowers of the Greensboro Police Department said the problem was noticed in North Carolina in 2009. Facing economic woes, people began adopting the idea of sovereign citizenship. Some sovereign citizens believe they are exempt from government, law, and taxes.
Flowers claimed a large number of fraud cases in Greensboro are tied to the Moors. El-Bey, who was arrested for trespassing, used Moorish references.
The Moorish Science Temple of America was founded in 1913 by a Durham native Noble Drew Ali. The temple has roots in Islam and blends elements of other faiths and philosophies. It has its own scriptures, generally called the Holy Koran or the Circle 7 Koran. The Moorish Science Temple taught that the people called Blacks were actually the descendants of “Asiatic Moors” or Moroccans who had been in North America for hundreds of years, Syracuse.com reported.
It has a large number of followers in North Carolina and New Jersey.
New Jersey resident Shanetta Little was the victim of a home deed scam by a man who claimed to be a member of the sovereign Moors. She arrived home to find the locks on her new home in Newark, New Jersey had been changed by a man who claimed he was the rightful owner, New York Times reported.
Hubert A. John of Los Angeles had filed bogus paperwork claiming her home. He was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, and making terroristic threats.
Despite the arrest, Little started receiving letters declaring that her home is not her own. The letters were typed on faux-consular letterhead using the name Lenapehoking of the Al Moroccan Empire at New Jersey State Republic. Lenapehoking was the land between New York City and Philadelphia that includes New Jersey — home to the Indigenous Lenape tribe before it was colonized by European settlers, The New York Times reported.
“The Moors claim to be about Black liberation and opportunity, and uplifting Black people,” Little said. “But (John) is literally oppressing me and taking what’s mine as a Black woman.”
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Brother D.A. Siggers-Bey, an assistant grand mufti with the Moorish Science Temple of America, said the church does not recognize individuals who choose to break the law. Many who claim to be Moorish “have never seen the inside of one of our temples,” he said.
Members are specifically taught to follow government law and to do otherwise is a direct violation of the Moorish teachings, Siggers-Bey said, according to WSOC-TV.