The “New Bethel Incident” took place in Detroit, Michigan, in March 31, 1969 during the First New Afrikan Nation Day Celebration at the New Bethel Baptist Church, on the West Side. One policeman killed and another wounded. Four Blacks wounded. Between 135 and 240 persons were arrested. Police later freed 125 persons. Criminal Court Judge G. Crockett [1909-1997], frees 8 other Blacks. Chaka Fuller, Rafael Viera, and Alfred 2X Hibbets were charged with killing. All 3 were subsequent tried and acquitted. Chaka Fuller was mysterious assassinated a few months afterwards.
Dr Mutulu Shakur Speaks on RNA New Bethel Shootout, Ocean Hill Brownsville Brooklyn Secession 68-69
“The seeds of Malcolm took further root on March 29,1968. On that date the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA) was founded at a convention held at the Black – owned Twenty Grand Motel in Detroit. Over 500 grassroot activists came together to issue a Declaration of Independence on behalf of the oppressed Black Nation Inside North America, and the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) was born. Since then Blacks desiring an independent Black Nation have referred to themselves and other Blacks in the U.S. as New Afrikans.”
“In 1969 COINTELPRO launched its main attack on the Black Liberation Movement in earnest. The RNA was similarly attacked that year. During their second annual convention in March ’69, held at reverend C.L. Franklin’s New Bethel Church in Detroit, a police provocation sparked a siege that poured 800 rounds into the church. Several convention members were wounded; one policeman was killed, another wounded, and the entire convention, 140 people, was arrested en masse. When Reverend Franklin (father of “The Queen of Soul,” singer Aretha Franklin) and Black State Representative James Del Rio were informed of the incident they called Black judge George Crockett, who proceeded to the police station where he found total legal chaos.
Almost 150 people were being held incommunicado. They were being questioned, fingerprinted, and given nitrate tests to determine if they had fired guns, in total disregard of fundamental constitutional procedures. Hours after the roundup, there wasn’t so much as a list of persons being held and no one had been formally arrested. An indignant Judge Crockett set up court right in the station house and demanded that the police either press charges or release their captives. He had handled about fifty cases when the Wane County prosecutor, called in by the police, intervened. The prosecutor promised that the use of all irregular methods would be halted. Crockett adjourned the impromptu court, and by noon the following day the police had released all but a few individuals who were held on specific charges. Chaka Fuller, Rafael Viera, and Alfred 2X Hibbits were charged with the killing. All three were subsequently tried and acquitted. Chaka Fuller was mysteriously assassinated a few months afterwards.
The aftermath of the New Bethel Incident was mixed for the RNA. On one hand, the overt repressive activity exerted at the anniversary and that experienced afterward galvanized the black community around the dissident organization as a group of African Americans trying to improve their situation had been treated coercively by the U.S. government – something that blacks in Detroit (and throughout the United States) were quite familiar with by that time. At a level not previously experienced, this situation brought all types of individuals and organizations to speak on the RNA’s behalf, including C. L. Franklin (the pastor of the church that hosted the ill-treated RNA meeting) and even the NAACP (although there was clearly no love lost between the two organizations). As the white police department and their supporters slandered and seriously questioned the black judge Crockett, who had participated in freeing New Bethel attendees arrested after the raid, the black community was brought closer to the RNA, if only in an awkward moment of mutual hostility toward anglos with guns.
On the other hand, the overt and covert repressive activity of and following the event led to a series of problems for the RNA. For example, there was a national search for the killer of one police officer and the shooter of another within the organization, which increased government scrutiny and harassment of members. According to newspaper articles and government committee testimony, the RNA was subject to a wide variety of domestic spying, including physical surveillance and informants. Later, there was a series of trials for those allegedly involved in the shootings, that is, Alfred Hibbitt (or Alfred 2x; slave name: Sam Love, an RNA member from Detroit), Rafael Viera (an RNA member from New York), and Clarence Fuller (an RNA member from Detroit). As if this were not enough, on the heels of these events, Robert F. Williams (the exiled president of the RNA) finally came back to Detroit on September 7, 1969. Although it was believed by many that his return would assist the RNA, shoring up its connections with other black organizations and compelling greater coherence around one of, if not the most prominent, black nationalist leaders in the United States, his return was actually highly disappointing and a bit divisive as he became consumed with the details of his potential extradition to North Carolina on an earlier kidnapping charge. With the realization that Williams would not lead the RNA, a series of events occurred that would significantly cripple the dissident organization, leading to Imari Obadele’s suspension as well as the development of a faction dividing the RNA between the two Obadele brothers, who differed in their approaches regarding what should be done.
Haki Kweli Shakur ATC-NAPLA NAIM MOI 3-31-53 ADM FREE THE LAND! 50 Years Struggle Forward! Mud!