After years of FBI surveillance on the Nuwaubians, Dwight York was arrested in Milledgeville, Ga on May 8, 2002. Through a drawn out process of legal battle, York was convicted of child molestation as well as RICO charges and was sentenced to 135 years of prison, which he is now serving in the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, CO. While the legal proceedings surrounding the case are thoroughly recorded, the impact on the Nuwaubian community itself remains unclear.
Anaedozie emphasizes the importance of York to the Nuwaubian nation explaining, “everything seemed to have flowed from and through him. This is underscored by how his name changes synchronized with the prevailing doctrinal position of his group as well as his authorship of nearly all their publications since inception to his incarceration.”1 Essentially, York initiated each phase of the movement, developing doctrine and structures while reflecting the belief changes in his own title and leadership claims. Implicit in York’s centrality to the structure of the movement is its necessary devolution with the event of his arrest.
York’s followers immediately disputed their leader’s arrest, refusing to believe the alleged charges while citing racism and conspiracy as motives to take York down. The group rallied and “distributed flyers that compared the raid by federal agents to the situation in Waco.”2 Follower Derrick Sanders stepped into York’s role and filed documents protesting York’s trials.3 Meanwhile, York claimed to be the “Chief Black Eagle” of the “Yamassee” tribe, alleging the United State’s government’s disqualification from trying him. During the hearings, neither talk of conspiracy nor York’s Native American based secessionist claims held standing before the court, and the legal proceedings continued. York was convicted, and forever barred off from leading the movement as he had.
While following York’s arrest and throughout the hearings, York initially attempted to continue his role of the movement’s fountain of doctrine and reference point for action, years of prisons have eaten away at the group’s numbers, and their stores and websites dwindle.
1 Emeka C. Anaedozie, Post Civil Rights Black Nationalism: The Nuwaubian Nation of Moors’ Model, 1967-2002 (Morgan State University, 2013), 85-86.
2 Bailey, Julius. “The Final Frontier: Secrecy, Identity, and the Media in the Rise and Fall of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, no. 2, 2006, 314.
3 Susan Palmer, The Nuwaubian Nation: Black Spirituality and State Control, (Farnham, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2010), 102-103.