A self-identified member of the group Rise of the Moors sued Danvers police after a traffic stop in November 2019.
The federal case didn’t go far. The member, Mooreno Bey, also known as Lesley Malave, refused to pay filing fees in US dollars, instead offering a single silver coin as payment, court records show.
The US Court of Appeal for the First Circuit dismissed Malave’s case Jan. 11. But much of the language — circuitous claims about lack of jurisdiction, broken Moroccan treaties, and infringement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People — echoed arguments heard in Malden District Court this week.
Several members of the Rhode Island-based group, jailed since an armed standoff on Interstate 95 over the holiday weekend, echoed Malave’s legalese during their arraignments this week, reading from crumpled notes balled in their cuffed hands.
They took turns sparring with the judge, snubbing defense attorneys poised to represent them, and insisting the state court had no authority over them.
Boston lawyer Leonard Kesten is well acquainted with going to court with the Rise of the Moors. He represented Danvers police in the traffic stop case involving Malave, who has ties to Lynn and Pawtucket but was not part of the Wakefield standoff. Rise of the Moors followers don’t believe Black people are citizens of the United States — and therefore should not be governed by its laws.
“They filed this ludicrous lawsuit citing everything, including the Moorish Treaty of 1787” as an exemption from US laws, Kesten said. “I actually read it, and it doesn’t say what they think it does.”
Despite making such assertions, the Rise of the Moors still claim US Constitutional rights to due process, free speech, and the right to bear arms. They can’t have it both ways, Kesten said.
Malave, then 29, claimed in his lawsuit that he wasn’t who officers thought he was; so did the men involved in the standoff. Malave said he was a free Moorish American national abiding by the high principles of love, truth, peace, freedom, and justice; so did the defendants in court this week.
The 10 men, ranging in age from 21 to 40, each have pleaded not guilty to one criminal conspiracy count and numerous gun and ammunition charges.
During the standoff, they told police they were a militia headed for training on private property that their leader held in Maine. They drove two unregistered vehicles. No one had a driver’s license.
State Police allegedly recovered three AR-15 rifles, two pistols, a bolt-action rifle, a shotgun, and a short-barreled rifle and mounds of ammunition, authorities said.
The men are being held without bail and are scheduled to attend detention hearings Friday.
Malave’s complaint, filed Nov. 4, 2019, involved a traffic stop of seemingly little note other than the fact that he filed a federal complaint, attorney Kesten said.
On Nov. 1, 2019, Danvers police pulled over Nadine Aponte for alleged speeding. She was traveling with Malave and their children, according to Malave’s complaint filed in US District Court.
Officer Patrick Ambrose turned his attention to Malave, who was told he was wanted on an active warrant. (Court records did not disclose what the alleged warrant was for.) Ambrose called four backups, according to the complaint.
From there, by Malave’s account, the incident devolved into chaos — threats, intimidation, and coercion.
“They all surrounded the car like a pack of hyenas, attempting numerous times to forcefully open up the doors without probable cause,” the complaint said. (Throughout the court filing, every reference to “complaint” was crossed out and replaced with “claim.”)
“They all threatened and conspired to deprive everyone in the automobile of their right to due process under color of law by threatening to have my children taken by a corporate entity, DCF (Department of Children and Families) and threatening to unlawfully arrest and detain me,” wrote Malave, who represented himself in the case.
Malave said he presented his “national identification card” to the officers.
According to Malave’s court filing, the incident resolved after he submitted to officers under duress, and was fingerprinted and paid $740 in “ransom.”
When Malave signed and dated the legal documents, he used the month, day, and year of the Moorish calendar, as well as the Gregorian one.
It was Malave’s refusal to pay court filing fees that stalled his federal case. Malave said it was unconstitutional to demand a payment or fee in US dollars because federal reserve notes are “not backed by anything of value.”
Enter the silver coin.
On Nov. 20, 2019, one week before the $400 filing fee was due, Malave filed “a curative affidavit for the filing fee.”
This time, he offered a single silver coin, allegedly valued at $913, “as my good faith attempt to cure this alleged ‘filing fee,’” records show.
The judge dismissed the case. Malave filed an appeal, but again failed to pay a filing fee.
The US Court of Appeal for the First Circuit reviewed the case anyway, refusing the silver coin as payment.
“Having given full consideration to that filing, this appeal is dismissed for failure to prosecute,” Clerk Maria R. Hamilton wrote in a judgment entered Jan. 11, 2021.