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
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
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
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
"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
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."