Aug 20, 2018
In 1969, The Republic of New Africa (RNA) held its first anniversary celebration at C.L. Franklin’s New Bethel Baptist Church. Armed guards were posted at the doors. When people were leaving, two Detroit cops pulled up, and according to RNA members, drew their weapons and started shooting because they were refused entrance. In the melee, one of the cops was killed and another injured.
The cops arrested nearly 150 people and held them incommunicado. When Reverend Franklin found out, he called in Judge George Crockett, a black judge respected in the community. Crockett first made a name for himself legally defending communists, including Coleman Young, during the McCarthy Period. Crockett immediately set up court at the police precinct, which led to all but a few of the RNA members being released the next day. It made Crockett a target for official recrimination, but it made him and Franklin respected representatives of the community into the future.