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July 18, 2016 3

The Washitaw Nation and Moorish Sovereign Citizens: What You Need to Know

GavinLongAfter author­i­ties iden­ti­fied Gavin Eugene Long as the man who shot and killed three police offi­cers from Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge on July 17, uncon­firmed media reports claimed that Long (who also used the name Cosmo Sete­penra) had con­nec­tions with the anti-government extrem­ist sov­er­eign cit­i­zen movement.

Sov­er­eign cit­i­zens believe that a con­spir­acy sub­verted and replaced the orig­i­nal U.S. gov­ern­ment with an ille­git­i­mate “de facto” gov­ern­ment, but that peo­ple can take steps to divorce them­selves from the ille­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment, after which its laws, taxes, reg­u­la­tions and courts have no more author­ity over them.

These rumors were soon confirmed—though it is clear that Long’s beliefs also extend far beyond the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment into other areas as well—with the Kansas City Star unearthing sov­er­eign cit­i­zen doc­u­ments filed by Long that indi­cated an affil­i­a­tion with the “Washitaw Nation,” one of many con­cepts asso­ci­ated with the so-called “Moor­ish move­ment,” or “Moor­ish sov­er­eign move­ment,” an off­shoot of the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment that com­bines long­stand­ing sov­er­eign cit­i­zen beliefs and tac­tics with some newer, pri­mar­ily Afro­cen­tric notions.

Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens emerged in the mid-1990s on the East Coast when some peo­ple began to merge sov­er­eign cit­i­zen ideas with some of the beliefs of the Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple, a reli­gious sect dat­ing back to 1913.  As sov­er­eign cit­i­zen notions attracted more Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple adher­ents, the Moor­ish sov­er­eign move­ment was born.  While still retain­ing most “tra­di­tional” sov­er­eign cit­i­zen pseudo-historical and pseudo-legal the­o­ries, Moor­ish sov­er­eigns added new ideas, includ­ing the notion that African-Americans had spe­cial rights because of a 1780s treaty with Morocco, as well as the belief that African-Americans were descended from African “Moors”—and often as well the belief that African-Americans were also a peo­ple indige­nous to the Americas.

WashitawNationBookThrough the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment grew, gen­er­at­ing a large num­ber of groups and gurus to pro­mote Moor­ish sov­er­eign ideas, it also absorbed other black sov­er­eign groups that had begun inde­pen­dently.  The most impor­tant of these was the Washitaw Nation, which began in the mid-1990s in Louisiana, started by the “Empress” Ver­diacee “Tiara” Washitaw-Turner Gos­ton El-Bey, who claimed to head the Washitaw Empire.  Washitaw Nation adher­ents claimed to be descended from the ancient mound-builders of the Mississippi-Missouri Val­ley and to actu­ally own the Louisiana Purchase.

After the “Empress” retired, the orig­i­nal Washitaw group fell apart, replaced with a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent groups and indi­vid­u­als tak­ing up the “Washitaw Nation” man­tle.  So today there is not just one “Washitaw Nation,” but many, mak­ing it one of the most impor­tant wings of the Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zen movement.

Since 2009, the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment has expe­ri­enced a major resur­gence, includ­ing among African-Americans.  Both Moor­ish and non-Moorish sov­er­eign cit­i­zen ideas have spread rapidly within the African-American com­mu­nity, aided by social media web­sites such as YouTube and Face­book.   Moor­ish and non-Moorish sov­er­eign ideas alike have also spread in pris­ons and jails across the country.

Most sov­er­eign cit­i­zens are still white, but in a num­ber of cities with large African-American pop­u­la­tions such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadel­phia and oth­ers, African-Americans now com­prise the major­ity of sov­er­eign cit­i­zens.  Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens can today be found in any area with a sub­stan­tial African-American population.

Key Attrib­utes of the Moor­ish Sov­er­eign Cit­i­zen Movement

  • Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens engage in the same crim­i­nal activ­i­ties as “tra­di­tional” sov­er­eign cit­i­zens do, includ­ing crimes of vio­lence (includ­ing against police); scams and frauds; and so-called “paper ter­ror­ism” tac­tics, which typ­i­cally involves the use of var­i­ous doc­u­ments and fil­ings to harass, intim­i­date and retal­i­ate against police offi­cers, pub­lic offi­cials, and others.
  • There is still much over­lap between the Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment and the Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple (one rea­son many Moor­ish sov­er­eigns add the words –El or –Bey to their names), but not all Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple adher­ents are sov­er­eign cit­i­zens and some vocally oppose sov­er­eign beliefs.
  • There are also African-American sov­er­eign cit­i­zens who do not adopt specif­i­cally Moor­ish sov­er­eign beliefs but only “tra­di­tional” sov­er­eign cit­i­zen notions.
  • Many Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens also pro­mote var­i­ous Afro­cen­tric “New Age” beliefs and concepts.
  • Though the Moor­ish sov­er­eign move­ment is pri­mar­ily African-American in com­po­si­tion, there are a few white peo­ple asso­ci­ated with Moor­ish groups.  More­over, Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens are not nec­es­sar­ily black sep­a­ratists nor nec­es­sar­ily con­nected with other black extrem­ist groups (though there is a small amount of overlap).
  • Like tra­di­tional sov­er­eign cit­i­zens, Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens are heav­ily reliant upon sov­er­eign “gurus,” who come up with and pro­mote the movement’s ideas and tac­tics.  Some promi­nent Moor­ish sov­er­eign gurus include Taj Tarik Bey; Abdul Ali Muham­mad Bey; Queen Val­lahra Renita EL Harre,Bey; Irv­ing “Hendo” Hen­der­son; and Washitaw Nation fig­ures Wendy Far­ica Washitaw and Fredrix “Joe” Wash­ing­ton (grand­daugh­ter and son of the “Empress” Ver­diacee), among oth­ers. Many Moor­ish sov­er­eign cit­i­zens may also fol­low “tra­di­tional” sov­er­eign gurus; of these, David-Wynn Miller seems to be rather influ­en­tial among some Moor­ish sovereigns.

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June 24, 2016 2

Law Enforcement: Standing in the Line of Fire

The recent attack on the les­bian, gay, bisex­ual and trans­gen­der (LGBT) com­mu­nity in Orlando that left 49 dead and more than 50 wounded is yet another exam­ple of law enforce­ment stand­ing in the line of fire in the fight against domes­tic extremism.

From 2009 to the present, at least 64 mem­bers of law enforce­ment have been shot by domes­tic extremists–including anti-government extrem­ists, white suprema­cists, domes­tic Mus­lim extrem­ists and oth­ers. Eigh­teen of those shoot­ings were fatal. Addi­tional offi­cers might have lost their lives had they not been wear­ing pro­tec­tive vests or, as in the case of the Orlando attack, a Kevlar helmet.

Since Jan­u­ary 2009, ADL has tracked 68 sep­a­rate inci­dents (includ­ing seven so far this year) in which shots have been fired between domes­tic extrem­ists and law enforce­ment in the United States. These inci­dents include sit­u­a­tions in which shots were exchanged between police and extrem­ists (shootouts), sit­u­a­tions in which extrem­ists have fired at police but police sub­dued the extrem­ists with­out hav­ing to return fire, and sit­u­a­tions in which offi­cers had to use their firearms to pro­tect them­selves against extremists.

The moti­va­tions that led the extrem­ists to vio­lence dur­ing these encoun­ters vary. Many were sim­ply try­ing to escape after police offi­cers caught them engaged in crim­i­nal behav­ior unre­lated to their extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy. For oth­ers the encounter with police became the cat­a­lyst for vio­lent ide­o­log­i­cal action. In some cases, vio­lence esca­lated to a “last stand” sit­u­a­tion in which the extremist(s) had to have known their actions would likely result in their own deaths. The most dis­turb­ing inci­dents, how­ever, are those (like the Orlando attack) in which the encounter occurred as police responded to and con­fronted extrem­ists who were in the midst of a directed and planned attack. TW-TargetsofAttacks

Fif­teen (22%) of the 68 extrem­ist encoun­ters with law enforce­ment were the result of direct attacks by the extrem­ists. In other words, these encoun­ters started purely due to the extremist’s ide­ol­ogy. In six of those cases, the extremist(s) con­ducted planned attacks on civilians–including the LGBT com­mu­nity in Florida, a Sikh tem­ple in Wis­con­sin, a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic in Col­orado, and employ­ees of the Trans­porta­tion Secu­rity Admin­is­tra­tion at the Los Ange­les air­port. In seven cases, the ini­tial attack was directed at law enforce­ment, and resulted in the assas­si­na­tions of three offi­cers. In Jan­u­ary of this year, an addi­tional offi­cer mirac­u­lously sur­vived an assas­si­na­tion attempt in Philadel­phia. In the remain­ing two cases, extrem­ists attacked mem­bers of the U.S. military.

Since 2009, offi­cers have encoun­tered domes­tic extrem­ists in 28 dif­fer­ent states. Sev­eral states have expe­ri­enced mul­ti­ple inci­dents. Texas law enforce­ment has endured 10 of the 68 encoun­ters (nearly 15%). In four of the Texas cases, the extremist(s) were linked to the Aryan Broth­er­hood of Texas or the Aryan Cir­cle, demon­strat­ing the state’s par­tic­u­lar prob­lem with large white suprema­cist prison gangs. In fact, mem­bers of racist prison gangs were involved in three of the seven shoot­ing inci­dents which have already occurred this year—including encoun­ters in Texas, Alabama and Colorado.

Florida has with­stood the sec­ond high­est num­ber of inci­dents, reach­ing eight encoun­ters with the addi­tion of the Orlando attack. Col­orado offi­cials have faced five inci­dents, and suf­fered through the loss of Col­orado Springs Offi­cer Gar­rett Swasey. Swasey, the most recent law enforce­ment casu­alty at the hand of domes­tic extrem­ists, died in the line of duty dur­ing a mass shoot­ing by an anti-abortion extrem­ist in Novem­ber 2015 at a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic.

Unfor­tu­nately ide­o­log­i­cal extrem­ists con­tinue to add to the dan­gers faced by law enforce­ment. An untold num­ber of lives were saved due to the efforts of the law enforce­ment offi­cers who con­fronted the 76 extrem­ists involved in these 68 inci­dents. These offi­cers put them­selves into dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions in order to pro­tect and serve the com­mu­ni­ties in which they live.

 

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April 13, 2016 3

Firearms Increasingly Weapon of Choice in Extremist-Related Killings

extremistkillingswithfirearms1970-2015In the pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion, the bomb is the weapon typ­i­cally asso­ci­ated with ter­ror­ists or extremists—but in the U.S. extrem­ists seem to be killing more peo­ple with firearms than with any other weapon, and that use may be increasing.

It is cer­tainly true that many of the high-profile ter­ror­ist attacks in the United States over the past cen­tury have been bomb­ings, includ­ing the 1919 anar­chist bomb­ing cam­paign, the 1963 16th Street Bap­tist Church bomb­ing, the 1995 bomb­ing of the Mur­rah Fed­eral Build­ing in Okla­homa City, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb­ing, among many oth­ers. Extrem­ist ser­ial bombers such as the Weather Under­ground, “Unabomber” Ted Kaczyn­ski, and Eric Rudolph have all got­ten their share of headlines.

How­ever, extrem­ists use a wide vari­ety of deadly imple­ments to com­mit their crimes, terrorist-related or oth­er­wise, from fists and boots to air­planes. The most com­mon tool of vio­lence seems to be the sim­ple firearm, a weapon that extrem­ists can use when com­mit­ting ter­ror­ist acts, hate crimes, assas­si­na­tions, armed rob­beries, and all man­ner of tra­di­tional crime. In the United States, firearms are easy to obtain and easy to use. Amer­i­can extrem­ists of all pos­si­ble types, from the far left to the far right, as well as reli­gious extrem­ists, have used firearms to com­mit deadly acts.

How com­mon is such firearms use in the United States? The Anti-Defamation League’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism exam­ined 890 mur­ders com­mit­ted by domes­tic extrem­ists in the United States from 1970 through 2015—both ide­o­log­i­cal and non-ideological killings by extrem­ist perpetrators—and dis­cov­ered that around 55% of these killings involved use of a firearm; all other weapons com­bined made up the other 45%.

This fig­ure sig­ni­fies both the pop­u­lar­ity of firearms among extrem­ist move­ments in the United States, espe­cially right-wing extrem­ists, as well as the fact that attacks with other types of weapons may be less likely to end in death. Attacks using knives or fists, for exam­ple, may pos­si­bly result in non-fatal injuries more often than firearms. On the other end of the scale, bomb­ings are more dif­fi­cult to carry out—with many extrem­ist bomb­ing plots detected and pre­vented by law enforce­ment from ever being executed.

When one breaks down the num­bers by decade, it appears that, after a dip in the 1980s and 1990s, firearms are becom­ing more pop­u­lar than ever as the deadly weapons of choice for Amer­i­can extrem­ists. Not only have the num­bers of domestic-extremist related killings in the U.S. increased over the past 20 years, but so too has the fre­quency of firearms as the weapons in such killings.

In the 1970s, extremists—primarily com­ing from the far left—used firearms in 61% of domes­tic extremist-related killings in the United States. Many of these inci­dents involved mem­bers of left-wing extrem­ist groups such as the Black Pan­thers and the Black Lib­er­a­tion Army attack­ing police officers.

The per­cent­age of firearms use in extremist-related killings dipped in the 1980s, to only 46%, then dropped dras­ti­cally in the 1990s, down to 20%. This lat­ter fig­ure is greatly dis­torted by the Okla­homa City bomb­ing, which itself resulted in 168 deaths, but even if the bomb­ing were left out of the cal­cu­la­tions, the new num­ber would only be 42%. There are sev­eral rea­sons that seem to account for these lower fig­ures, includ­ing the rise of white suprema­cist prison gangs com­mit­ting mur­ders behind bars and the growth of the racist skin­head sub­cul­ture in the United States, whose adher­ents often eschewed firearms for beat­ing and stab­bing attacks.

How­ever, in the 2000s, firearms once more were the deadly weapons in the major­ity of killings, with 62% of the killings between 2001 and 2010 involv­ing one or more firearms. So far in the cur­rent decade, the per­cent­ages are even higher, with 72% of the domestic-extremist related deaths from 2011 through 2015 involv­ing firearms.

What accounts for this increase? Sev­eral fac­tors seem to have played a role. One is the increased use of firearms by sev­eral extrem­ist move­ments. Racist skin­heads seem to use firearms with greater fre­quency in the 2000s than they did in ear­lier decades, while the growth of white suprema­cist prison gang activ­ity on the streets—as opposed to behind bars—has allowed their mem­bers much greater access to and use of firearms.

Even more con­cern­ing is the appar­ent grav­i­ta­tion of domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists towards firearms as a weapon of choice. In the early years of this move­ment, fol­low­ing the 2003 U.S. inva­sion of Iraq, much of the energy of those extrem­ists with vio­lent impulses were directed at elab­o­rate plots involv­ing bombs or even mil­i­tary weapons—plots typ­i­cally stopped by law enforce­ment before they could ever be car­ried out.

Since 2009, how­ever, there have been a num­ber of high-profile inci­dents in which Islamic extrem­ists have used firearms to con­duct shoot­ings (and one instance, the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, where the per­pe­tra­tors used both bombs and firearms), includ­ing shoot­ings at Ft. Hood, Texas; Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas; Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee; and San Bernardino, California.

The rise of ISIS in the past sev­eral years may have con­tributed to the increase in attempted small arms attacks; Al Qaeda gen­er­ally favored high-spectacle and sym­bolic attacks, whereas ISIS has been more prac­ti­cal, urg­ing adher­ents to com­mit any attack they think they can pull off.

Most of the Islamic-related shoot­ings were mass shoot­ings, which may be the final piece of the puz­zle. Though most extrem­ist killings con­tinue to take one vic­tim at a time, the num­ber of mul­ti­ple vic­tims in deadly extremist-related inci­dents (both ide­o­log­i­cal and non-ideological) has cer­tainly grown. Since 2001, there have been 24 domes­tic extrem­ist inci­dents in which at least three peo­ple were killed—and firearms were the weapons used in the vast major­ity of these cases, includ­ing such deadly shoot­ing sprees as the 2012 Wis­con­sin Sikh tem­ple shoot­ing and the 2015 Charleston church shooting.

The increased num­ber of mul­ti­ple vic­tim inci­dents by extrem­ists is also one of the rea­sons why the death toll has been ris­ing. From extrem­ists on the right such as white suprema­cists and anti-government extrem­ists to reli­gious extrem­ists such as domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, gun vio­lence seems more likely to increase than decrease in the com­ing months and years

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