A United State District Court judge dismissed a civil suit late last month in which a so-called Moorish American was claiming squatters rights on a Montclair home.
Thierry-Lamarre Bey of Newark filed a complaint against Andrea L. Cherry as well as Montclair Police Chief David Sabagh and Montclair Code Enforcement Officer Kathleen Kumanyika in July 2014, according to court documents.
A police detective – referred to in court documents as “John Doe” – was also named as a defendant.
Bey represented himself in court. The Montclair Times was unsuccessful in obtaining contact information for Bey.
In a complaint filed on July 31, Bey stated his claim to the property located at 327 Grove St., near the intersection of Watchung Avenue.
“This mentioned ‘Land’ has been abandoned for 5 years prior to my discovery,” Bey stated in the court document. “Since my discovery the before-mentioned land has been in my custody. I have been maintaining the ‘Land’ by the removal of litter clutter, trimming the trees, raking the leaves, and shoveling the snow from the sidewalks for pedestrian safety.”
In the same document, Bey goes on to state that the property was granted to him as a beneficiary by Noble Drew Ali.
“Noble Drew Ali stated that ‘The Moors were living up and down the Mississippi River before the Europeans came here,'” Bey’s statement continued. “…Whoever my ancestors were, I am today and whatever they owned I own according to specific laws of inheritance. Furthermore, under the inheritance laws this land sits on the parallel … which is sacred to my ancestors, therefore I own the before mentioned land.”
Bey went on to claim that the Montclair Code Enforcement Office and the Montclair Police Department “have levied war against my person and family.” Specifically, Bey claimed that Kumanyika placed an “unsafe structure” placard on the property and Sabagh assigned a detective to investigate the property, resulting in Bey’s son’s school being contacted as well as DYFS.
Bey demanded $75,000 from the township, $10,000 from Sabagh, and $10,000 from the detective, along with a jury of his peers should the case go to trial.
David Klein, who helped represent the township in the case, declined comment when reached by The Montclair Times.
Township Attorney Ira Karasick, who also represented the municipal defendants in the case, told The Montclair Times that the $95,000 demand was arbitrary and not connected to anything specific.
The property at 327 Grove St. has been owned by Cherry, according to Karasick, adding that the property had been foreclosed on. The township attorney said that he did not know how Bey began occupying the property, but said that Cherry was not living there at the time.
DYFS was contacted as Bey’s child was on the property, Karasick said.
Sabagh attributed his involvement in the case to his role as chief of police. He added that he was not directly involved in the litigation.
The police chief said that he remembered receiving a telephoned complaint that the true owner of the property was out of state and that somebody was spotted on the property who did not belong there. Similar complaints followed, Sabagh said, as conflicting accounts surfaced as to who actually owned the property.
Sabagh described the case as “odd” and said that he had had no prior experience with similar situations.
Karasick, too, described the case as being unique and dissimilar to prior cases he has handled for the township. The township attorney said that similar cases involving “Moorish Americans” have occurred across the nation.
In a legal brief supporting the dismissal of the complaint, Klein made the same claim.
“In recent years, Moorish Science Temple of America has been involved in dozens of lawsuits in the Third Circuit and throughout the country, which filings this Court can judicially notice,” the brief reads, in part. “Routinely criticized by Courts, the complaints in these cases have frequently been dismissed at inception.”
The brief went on to attack Bey’s complaint by arguing that the federal court lacks jurisdiction in the case and that Bey is unable to convince the court that it has jurisdiction. Describing the case as a local matter, Klein stated that the case “belongs, if anywhere, in a state forum.”
Klein also argued that Bey’s complaint failed to be “simple, concise and direct” as federal civil procedure requires, and that “this Court – or defendants – should not be required to analyze an incomprehensible Complaint.”
In a court order and opinion signed on Jan. 21, U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Cox Arleo concurred with Klein’s assertion that the court has no jurisdiction over the case and described the complaint as “difficult to decipher.”
Arleo granted the municipal defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.