MEDFORD (CBS) – The last time Steven Latimer saw his son, Jamhal Latimer was livestreaming from the side of Interstate 95 in Wakefield in full tactical gear.
“I was afraid. Definitely afraid. Scared. Because, you just don’t know how those things are going to turn out,” Steven Latimer said.READ MORE: Police Searching Woods In Abington For Missing 5-Year-Old Elijah Lewis
Now, Jamhal, who also goes by Talib Abdullah Bey, is in jail awaiting an arraignment before a judge in Malden District Court. The co-founder of the Rise of the Moors and 10 other heavily armed men dressed in tactical gear were arrested Saturday on a slew of firearms charges after a stand-off with police that shut down 95 in Wakefield for several hours. The men were headed to Maine for training, police said.
“From my point of view, the way they were portraying him, isn’t the son that I know,” Latimer said after police described the men as a militia that subscribes to Moorish Sovereign Ideology. “It is my son and I know he doesn’t have any ill will.”
The Rise of the Moors is one of 25 anti-government groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2020, according to the Law Center’s President and CEO, Margaret Huang.
“They don’t believe that they are citizens of the United States, they don’t pay taxes, they don’t seek driver’s licenses or gun licenses,” Huang said.READ MORE: 'Plan For Alternatives': Toys May Be In Short Supply This Holiday Season
Huang says the groups share similar beliefs, but they do not appear to be coordinated.
“They claim that there was a treaty signed between the United States and Morocco in the 1780s that gives them the right to claim this autonomy and sovereignty,” Huang said.
According to Huang, Rise of the Moors followers specifically believe that Rhode Island is their sovereign territory and they even claim abandoned properties in the group’s name.
Latimer, who lives in Providence, says his son is neither anti-government nor violent and claims the group trains on how to use firearms in self-defense.
“Their goal is to make sure or ensure that everyone is being treated equally and fairly,” Latimer said. “They never went out and hurt anybody. They didn’t storm any buildings or police departments.”MORE NEWS: Lauren Astley's Father Works With Wayland Students To Raise Awareness About Teen Dating Violence
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the groups YouTube page has gained 5,000 subscribers in the last year.