What to Know
- A 39-year-old man from Los Angeles is facing charges after he took possession of a vacant home in Newark, New Jersey, according to city officials
- Hubert A. John faces charges of criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass and terroristic threats, Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara announced Tuesday
- The charges stem from a chain of alleged events that took place last week. On June 17, police responded to a burglary call on Ivy Street at approximately 12 p.m. Officers located the homeowner who reported that four males that she did not know were allegedly claiming to have legal residency of her vacant property and had changed the locks
Shanetta Little was excited to move into her new home in Newark, New Jersey, but when tried to do so last week, her house had been taken over by a man who put up a Moorish flag in the window and refused to come out.
"I realized that my key didn't work," the first-time homebuyer said, recalling the beginning of what seems like a nightmare. "My next door neighbor told me that she met my husband, who she thought was my husband, but I do not have a husband."
That stranger had apparently changed the locks to her home. When Little came back the next day on June 17 with a locksmith, she said a group of men approached her.
"[They] really aggressively tried to intimidate me, like really close to me so much so that the locksmith had to be like 'woah, dude,' and they basically said this was their house and that they had papers," Little said.
"This person is saying 'I am an aboriginal indigenous Moorish American sovereign national continental…it's a lot of words and a lot of stuff that don't mean anything," Little said, reading from the papers she received in the mail weeks before.
Her lawyers had told her to ignore them because the group who claimed to be sovereign citizens of the Al Moroccan Empire had no legal rights to her property. So when the group of men confronted her, she called the police. After cops verified that the house does belong to Little, who purchased it in February 2021, they told the four men to leave but one of them returned a short time later.
Little said she was sitting on her porch when, "the one tall gentleman just decided that he would step right over me, use his key, open the door and he just locked the door behind him."
The man who would later be identified by police as 39-year-old Hubert A. John from Los Angeles had raised a Moorish flag in the window. This time, the SWAT team was called to handle the situation.
Little said John had saged the house and left sage bundle on the ground. He had brought food like bagels and organic drinks in there, as well as a yoga mat. The SWAT team negotiated with John for nearly an hour before going inside the house to get him. Cellphone video shows police officers lifting him off the ground to place him into the police car, "like a piece of plywood," Little said.
"He was adamant that he wasn't going to surrender," she added.
John faces charges of criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass and terroristic threats, Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara announced Tuesday.
Attorney information for John was not immediately known.