MARLBOROUGH — A traffic stop on Route 101 escalated when police pulled over a driver who presented an “Allodial American National” identity card and said he does not recognize government authority.
As Leon J. Campbell was talking to Sgt. Zachary Byam Tuesday afternoon about his belief that he did not need a state-issued driver’s license or a state-issued car registration, Byam said, Campbell’s companions pulled over in two other cars, got out of their vehicles and surrounded officers in a parking lot near Dave’s Dogs hot dog stand.
Byam said neither he “nor any member of our department, has ever run into them before,” referring to the group identified as “Moorish sovereigns” or “sovereign citizens.”
Byam said several other officers from nearby communities responded to help keep the peace as the group marched around the cars and video-recorded the police interactions.
Campbell was arrested and charged with two counts of disobeying an officer, operating after suspension, operating without a valid license, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, and display of false registration decal.
He is due in Keene District Court in January to face those charges.
Byam said that Campbell, of Lowell, Mass., and his companions were in the area for work opportunities.
The identity card Campbell presented bore the name of Leonitus J. Bey, but Byam said further investigation found that the driver was Leon J. Campbell, 35.
The Moorish Science Temple of America is a sect based on Islam that started in the 1920s, according to its website.
The group has had a fractious history with the “Moorish sovereigns,” a small breakaway group.
Members typically change their last names to either Bey or El.
“The church asks anyone who deals with a purported Moorish sovereign to contact the church offices in Washington D.C. or Philadelphia to verify they are dealing with the genuine church,” a news release on the Moorish Science Temple of America website states.
Campbell could not be reached for comment.