Property disputes happen from time to time, but ones where the tenants claim in a court of law that the apartment is actually their own sovereign country and therefore not subject to United States law are a little more rare.
In Philadelphia on Tuesday, Rebecca Lyn Harmon and three co-defendants pled this exact defense in court after being arrested for tearing down the eviction notice on their former apartment and breaking in. From the Philadelphia Daily News:
The four say they are "Aboriginal Indigenous Moorish Americans," sovereign citizens who don't recognize local or federal laws and have claimed Beyer's apartment - and in fact, the entire building at 13th and Hamilton - as theirs by birthright.
According to Brother A. Kinard-Bey, who answered the Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc. office phone in Washington, D.C., Harmon and her cohorts are imposters.
"We're seeing a number of people claiming to be of our temple who want to know how to naturalize or how to gain to their sovereignty," Kinard-Bey says. "Those are not lessons that the Moorish Science Temple of America teach."
Kinard-Bey says their organization is the same one Prophet Noble Drew Ali founded back in 1925 with the mission of "uplifting fallen humanity and teach those things necessary to make our members better citizens." The Wikipedia entry for Aboriginal Indigenous Moorish Americans, meanwhile, describes the temple as a religious organization founded on the belief that "African-Americans descended from the Moors and thus were originally Islamic."
Harmon isn't the first to use this defense. According to TMZ, Deion Sanders' ex-wife Pilar Sanders claimed a similar defense a few days ago, when her association with the Moorish Divine and National Movement of the World was used as justification for voiding her prenuptial agreement.
"That's not part of the Moorish Science Temple," Kinard-Bey says. "We don't teach any of that."
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.