Arrest Nuwaubians' latest trouble
Group has had confrontational, controversial history in
Macon Telegraph/May 9, 2002
By Rob Peecher
Eatonton -- Wednesday's arrest of United Nuwaubian Nation of
Moors leader Malachi York is the latest in a long string of
troubles for the fraternal organization and Putnam County.
For more than nine years, York and his followers have been
at the center of one controversy after another, involving
massive amounts of litigation in both state and federal
courts. County officials have accused people associated with
the group of incidents of harassment and intimidation, and
Nuwaubians have repeatedly denounced county officials,
alleging they discriminated against them based on their race
At various times during the conflict between the Nuwaubians
and county officials, members of the fraternal organization
and Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills publicly warned of
the potential for a violent confrontation.
The entire controversy has centered on Malachi York, now
facing state and federal charges of child molestation, and
his ability to convince people to follow him.
Before coming to Putnam County in 1993, York was the leader
of an Islamic sect known as the Ansaru Allah Community in
New York City.
In the early 1990s, he was the subject of an FBI
investigation that tied York or members of his organization
to arsons, bank robberies, welfare fraud and extortion.
When York initially came to Putnam County, he claimed to be
an alien from the planet "Rizq," and the Nuwaubians dressed
in cowboy attire.
During his nine years in Georgia, York's organization has
been known by a number of names: the Yamassee Native
American Tribe, the Ancient and Mystic Order of Malchizedek,
Holy Tabernacle Ministries and, most recently, the
Nuwaubians have claimed to be members of the "Al Mahdi
Shrine" organization and the "Holy Seed Baptist Synagogue."
York has claimed heritage to Native Americans and Egyptians.
York and the Nuwaubians have made unsuccessful efforts to
purchase the Shrine temple on Poplar Street and Tabernacle
Baptist Church on Second Street in downtown Macon.
Black superiority a constant theme
While the group's publicly stated beliefs and associations
have changed frequently, the one message in York's teachings
that has remained constant since before coming to Putnam
County is a message of black superiority. York repeatedly
refers to whites as "the devil" and teaches that the color
of their skin is caused by leprosy. In his teachings, York
intertwines aspects of Islam and Christianity.
In 1997, after refusing to allow the county building
inspector onto the property, the group came to the attention
of newly elected Sheriff Howard Sills.
A series of lawsuits were filed, centered on a building that
was issued a building permit as a 100-by-50-foot storage
building that the Nuwaubians turned into a nightclub.
The lawsuits immediately set the Nuwaubians at odds with
county officials. The Nuwaubians began producing hundreds of
pamphlets that they distributed on the streets in Eatonton,
targeting primarily county officials, judges and members of
Also in the pamphlets, the Nuwaubians repeatedly accused
Sills of trying to spark a "Waco"-type confrontation.
The Nuwaubians have received a string of prominent
supporters since spring 1999, when Joe Beasley of Jesse
Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition came to Putnam County.
Jackson himself visited the Nuwaubian village a year ago.
Civil rights leader Al Sharpton spoke at the village. Macon
Mayor Jack Ellis has visited the village. Former state Sen.
Leroy Johnson has acted as York's attorney.
State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a Democrat and president of the
Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, has
repeatedly spoken out in support of York. In 1999 - about
the time York was ordered to appear before Ocmulgee Judicial
Circuit Superior Court Judge Hugh V. Wingfield III on a
contempt of court motion - Brooks sought help for York from
the "Georgia Rangers."
The Rangers carried credentials stating they had arrest
powers throughout the state, but the law cited is the law
that provides for citizens arrests.
Shortly after the Rangers became involved in the dispute
between the county and the Nuwaubians, Sills and agents of
the Georgia Bureau of Investigation raided the Rangers
headquarters in Atlanta and made arrests on charges ranging
from possession of a firearm by a convicted felon to
impersonating a public officer.
But in the past two years, the tension between county
officials and the Nuwaubians has eased significantly.
Dorothy Adams and Frank Ford, the attorneys who represented
the county in almost all of Nuwaubian-related litigation,
were fired by the county a year ago. Adams and Ford were two
of the most frequent targets of the Nuwaubian fliers. A
lawsuit filed by the county in 1999 ended in a bench trial
earlier this year. The new county attorney, Bob Prior,
assisted in creating a deed that got York dismissed as a
defendant in the suit and paid the recording fee for the
deed himself at the Superior Court clerk's office.
In summer 1999, when events seemed to have reached a pivotal
moment, Everett Leon Stout appeared on the scene. Stout, who
at the time was a fugitive from Tennessee and connected to
militia organizations, called on the county coroner to
arrest the sheriff and attempted on behalf of the Nuwaubians
to sue various county officials for $1 million in a
Stout's lawsuits never materialized, and he disappeared a
few days later.