Virginia empowerment group figures in shooting appeal

Norfolk, Virginia (AP) December 2010

A Virginia man in prison for a 2009 shooting is hoping his religion will win his release.

The Virginian-Pilot reports on the case of Josep-El Bey as a more recent example of a small black-empowerment movement's efforts to claim independence from both state and federal laws.

The group is the Moorish Science Temple of America. Founded in the 1920, it says that its members are not U.S. citizens but instead hail from a Moroccan tribe.

The newspaper reports that Bey paid $500 for a nationality card from the group. He is invoking his Moorish citizenship in a criminal appeal.

The Moors become known for questionable legal filings. Among other claims, they allege they don't require a driver's license or have to pay traffic tickets.