Sovereign Citizens Try To Steal Woman's New House, Claiming It's Theirs
We've all heard stories about the strange things sovereign citizens try to get away with or think they should be able to get away with — stealing vaccines, not wearing masks, killing cops, paper terrorism, not paying taxes, trying to access their imaginary straw man bank accounts that exist under their names BUT IN ALL CAPS. But apparently they are also very into trying to steal people's houses.
This weekend, TikTok user Shanetta, or @regblackgrl, published an absolutely riveting account of her interactions with a group of Moorish sovereign citizens who kept trying to steal the house she recently purchased, claiming they owned it as part of their "ancestral estate" and going so far as to actually break in and change the locks. Because it's TikTok and the videos are only allowed to be like a minute long, it is a 49-part series (plus more videos in a Q&A series). I watched the whole damn thing.
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Here's what happened. Shanetta bought this house, but didn't move in right away because she had to do renovations. In May, she got a few letters from the Al Moroccan Empire Consulate at New Jersey saying she has to relinquish her new property because someone from there claims it as their "ancestral estate." She informed her lawyer, who told her it was bullshit. But then she went to her new house one day in June and found that a small group of men had broken in and changed the locks and some random guy had just ... moved right in.
So she called the cops.
Via Daily Dot:
When confronted by responding officers, Shanetta said the group of men presented documents similar to what she received in the mail, claiming that the house was the occupying man's ancestral home. The sergeant on-duty called the documents "bullshit," Shanetta said, with the tell-tale sign being that the public officials addressed in the papers had been out of office for some time. The man claimed to be a Moorish Sovereign Citizen, and said that he was not subject to local or federal law.
"It took a good 30—almost 40 minutes of negotiating to get him out because he just wouldn't come out," Shanetta said in a video. "The neighbors said that they could see him walking to and fro in the house, looked like he was on his cell phone talking to somebody. But he would just sit. They would say, 'hey, we need—they kept saying something like 'we cannot see your ID, you're going to have to come out of the house and show us."
There was also something sketchy going on with the locksmith, who had been socializing with the men and seemed to know them pretty well. He said he'd change the locks for her once the cops said the house was hers, but then said he had to leave and by the time the cops were able to do that, he was too busy driving all over New Jersey.
The cops eventually left, and while Shanetta was sitting outside her home, one of the men walked right past her, closed the door, put the official flag of Moorish Scientists in the window, and walked around the house smashing things.
Part 36: It’s almost over. I did not realize I hadn’t posted the end in my original compilation! #foryou
So the cops came back. While many of them had been helpful and sympathetic, one particularly unhelpful cop claimed they couldn't just break the door down and get the guy out because it's a squatter situation. (It wasn't, because as Shanetta explained, in New Jersey he would have had to have been there for 30 years.) That cop told Shanetta she'd have to go to court to officially evict the guy. However, once her new neighbors let it be known that they felt threatened as well, the cops ended up calling the SWAT team and dragging him out.
"He would just go back and sit on the landing that leads to the second floor," Shanetta continued. "So [the police] finally break the door in, which to my surprise, they did not do that much damage to the door frame. I was able to get another locksmith. They ended up basically having to carry him out like a piece of plywood, because he was laying flat… he would not walk out at all. I think three or four men just carried him out like they were carrying out a piece of sheetrock."
It turns out Moorish sovereign citizens have been doing this for a while now, and have been forcibly removed from homes they've tried to claim adverse possession of across the United States, arguing those homes were their "ancestral estates." So far, it seems this has never actually worked, but they keep doing it anyway. Which is usually the story with sovereigns. Sovereign citizens are big on "squatters' rights" in general, and will frequently take up residence in abandoned homes, get the utilities turned on, and then claim adverse possession. This specific tack, however, seems to be particular to this group.
Moorish sovereign citizens are an offshoot of both the sovereign citizen movement and the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), although actual Moorish Scientists are reportedly not super happy about this or people using their religion to defraud people.
Moorish sovereign citizens espouse an antigovernment doctrine in which its members claim to be part of a sovereign nation. For some who identify themselves as "Moor," "Moorish" or something similar, there is a belief that a 1787 treaty (fictitious) between the United States and Morocco grants them immunity from U.S. law. Others, such as the Washitaw Nation, may falsely claim to occupy United Nations Indigenous People's Seat 215 — there is no such thing — and create their own birth certificates, passports, driver's licenses and vehicle registrations.
According to their website, the Al Moroccan Empire Consulate at New Jersey just opened in March of this year, so while hopefully this is the last Shanetta will see of these men, they're probably just beginning to run these schemes on people.
If you want to watch the whole series (which is bonkers), start here.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse