Couple considered sovereign citizens claim harassment
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - A Little Rock couple claims they were mislabeled and mistreated during a 2012 traffic stop in which authorities reported them as being "sovereign citizens."
On April 7, 2012 Marco McCormick was pulled over on his way home for displaying only a custom made Moorish-American license plate on his vehicle. When asked to provide a driver's license, McCormick said he did not need to provide it because he was traveling, according to deputies and McCormick's own account.
He identified himself as a Moorish-American to the responding officer, who then called for backup on Arch Street that morning under the impression he claimed to be a sovereign citizen.
Minutes later, McCormick's wife, Chandra Bussey, arrived after receiving a call from her husband that he had been pulled over. Newly released Arkansas State Trooper dash cam video shows deputies pointed their handguns at Bussey before eventually arrested her on charges of terroristic threatening. McCormick had to be tased by authorities after they reported him being uncooperative and before he was also arrested.
McCormick and Bussey both go by the Moorish names of Queen Chandra and Maurice Bey.
"They treated us like animals on the side of the street," said Queen Chandra Bey on Tuesday, standing near the scene of the April incident.
The Bey couple denies telling police they were sovereign citizens and maintain they tried to provide documentation of their Native American heritage, but were rebuffed by authorities.
Sovereign citizens are classified by the FBI as "extremists, comprising a domestic terrorist movement," according to its website.
"We're not sovereign citizens," said Bey. "We're Moors. Moors are the natives to this land. That's been a hidden fact for a long time."
She claims to be a normal law-abiding resident who was confused with a growing anti-government sect.
Authorities nationwide have taken more precautions in stops involving perceived sovereign citizens.
"In the last year it's come up more than a handful of times," said Lieutenant Carl Minden with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department.
Minden says the couple behaved on April 7 like individuals who felt they weren't bound by American laws.
"With some of the claims that the sovereign citizens have, they're just point blank not going to give you that information," said Lt. Minden, "and one thing leads to another and it usually unfortunately has a tendency to escalate."
He referenced the May 20, 2010 West Memphis shooting where two police officers were killed by two sovereign citizens.
The Beys take offense to that comparison.
"It makes made me feel like a traitor you know," said Maurice Bey, born and raised in Arkansas, "to tell me that I'm a terrorist here in my own country."
"When you're right you're willing to take on anything and anybody to make sure that what's right and what's just is what's served," said Queen Chandra Bey.
The couple plans to use the video at their next court date, where they are appealing their threatening convictions.