Putnam County members work to
bolster better image of United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors
Savannah Morning News/May 15, 2002
By Kevin Conner
Eatonton -- Members of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors
spent much of Mother's Day handing out literature alleging a
government conspiracy in last week's police raid at the
group's compound in rural Putnam County.
Last Wednesday, police arrested the group's leader, Dwight
York -- also known as Malachi York -- and his companion,
Kathy Johnson, on charges of sexual exploitation of minors.
York and Johnson are accused of transporting minors from out
of state to Georgia for sexual purposes.
The arrests came just prior to a raid on the Shady Dale Road
compound, which features two pyramids, a sphinx and other
The sect has Athens ties, with construction of a Nuwaubian
bookstore still ongoing on West Broad Street. People were
seen working on the faux-Moorish structure Sunday. York also
owns a $525,000 home on Mansfield Court that was searched by
federal authorities Wednesday.
In a search of York's Athens home off Timothy Road, federal
agents found some $128,000 in cash, Putnam County Sheriff
Howard Sills told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Nuwaubians were spread throughout Eatonton on Sunday,
handing out the flyers at places like Sumpter and Oconee
streets, the Ingles shopping center on Georgia Highway 16
and a shopping center near downtown that has a Family
Dollar, Food Max and CVS Pharmacy.
"We don't give interviews," said a Nuwaubian man dressed in
black and handing out flyers at the corner of Sumpter and
Oconee streets. Several other Nuwaubians at various
locations also refused interviews.
The flyer likened the raid tactics used by federal agents
and the Putnam County Sheriff's Department to the 1993
police raid on the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.
The flyer alleged the FBI and sheriff's department had
entered the village to gather testimonial evidence against
York and Johnson and held village residents "hostage"
through the afternoon and night. The flyer -- no author was
mentioned -- stressed that Nuwaubians are peaceful and
shouldn't have been subjected to the large-scale raid.
"Everyone was told that they were not in trouble, and that
they were not under arrest, even though each individual's
right to travel and leave as they pleased was impeded," the
flyer read, in part.
Sheriff's officials have said that about 200 law enforcement
officers, including federal agents, had surrounded the
village, but haven't disclosed what evidence or materials
have been taken. About 80 to 100 people were at the village
at the time of the raid, the sheriff's department has said.
Since moving from New York to Putnam County in 1993, members
of the group have clashed with local officials, mostly over
zoning issues regarding the structures at the compound.
Joe Griner, an Eatonton resident of five years who was
shopping in the town Sunday, said he wasn't surprised at the
arrests and raid at the compound, given the group's history
of run-ins with local law enforcement.
"It didn't surprise me a bit," he said. "Them and the law
have battled quite a bit over the last few years. They've
made national news several times."