The 13th Floor

The Football Player and the “Son of God”

Life was looking pretty good for Robert Rozier in the spring of 1979. Coming off of a winning season with the Golden State Bears, Rozier was drafted by St. Louis Cardinals in the 9th round of the NFL draft. A defensive end, Rozier was an intimidating figure standing well over six feet with the muscle to back it up. The world belonged to Rozier, and he knew it.

Six weeks into the season, Rozier’s the Cardinals cut him from the team, and while no official reason was ever given, rumors spread that Roizer had a problem with drugs. Too much of the good life, too little dedication to the sport. Rozier took his skills to Canada and played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders before heading back to the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. This time, he made it two games before getting cut. After two years, Robert Roizer’s once promising professional career was dead.

Rozier wandered the country looking for a home. Someplace where he would be accepted. Someplace that would help him clean up. Someplace he could hide away from the Canadian authorities who were after him for $50,000 worth of bad checks.

After spending six months in prison, Robert Rozier, seeing the best days of his life fading away, found his way to Miami Florida and the Temple of Love.

Coming into this world in 1935, Hulon Mitchell Jr. was the first of fifteen children for Reverend Dr. Hulon Mitchell Sr and his wife, Dr. Pearl Mitchell. Kingfisher Oklahoma wasn’t a great place for a poor family, and even worse for a poor black family. Still, the Mitchells endured every hardship thrown at them, just like Moses and the Israelites. Reverend Mitchell, with a special love for the Book of Exodus, raised his children to follow the word of God, and Hulon Jr. swore that he would.

After serving his country, Hulon Jr. went to college to study psychology. Hulon Jr., like many at the time, became part of the Civil Rights movement in Oklahoma. His participation in protests, and his first hand experience with how Southern authorities violently handled demonstrators, pushed Hulon away from the peaceful activism of Martin Luther King Jr. Hulon moved through a variety of black nationalism groups, never finding one that spoke to him in the way he needed. To Hulon, the answer to equality lay not only in nationalism, but in Biblical retribution. It was clear to him that there was no future where the white man and the black man could live side by side.

With that realization, Hulon Mitchell Jr. ceased to be. In his place stood Yahweh ben Yahweh; the Lord son of the Lord.

By the end of the 1970s, Yahweh ben Yahweh found a home in Liberty City, Florida. From there, he would preach to anyone who had lost faith in God and government, to those left behind in a changing world. Over the course of a year, Yahweh ben Yahweh built up his own religion; The Nation of Yahweh. He told his followers that Europeans and Jews were oppressors and that Africans and the descendants of Africa were the true chosen people of God. He told them that God celebrated when a white man diedAs his cult grew, so did Yahweh ben Yahweh’s demand for loyalty to him above all else.

Those who Yahweh ben Yahweh trusted most were given special access to him. He called them “The Brotherhood” and they became Yahweh ben Yahweh’s eyes, ears, and fists in the outside world. As Yahweh ben Yahweh built himself up through a series of legal businesses paid for by the money of his followers, the Brotherhood exacted vengeance on any who spoke against their leader.

Within a year, Yahweh ben Yahweh and the Nation of Yahweh purchased multiple buildings in Miami. From there, his followers spread the message, bringing in new converts. The Nation of Yahweh grew with each passing day.

It was here were Robert Rozier first heard of Yahweh ben Yahweh.

Rozier joined the Nation of Yahweh and changed his name to Neariah Israel, Child of God. The passion Rozier once showed on the football field was renewed and used to help the Nation of Yahweh. Rozier moved into the Temple of Love in Miami and spent every moment of his time working for Yahweh ben Yahweh. He attended every sermon and listened as Yahweh ben Yahweh spoke of the evils of the blue eyed devils and the need for the God’s true children to stand against them.

Rozier worked his way up the ranks of the Nation of Yahweh. He had found the home he was searching for, and he wasn’t going to mess up this opportunity like he had in the past. Yahweh ben Yahweh notice the former NFL player. He saw in Rozier determination, strength, and a desperate need for acceptance. The makings of a great cult follower.

Yahweh ben Yahweh offered Rozier the opportunity to join the upper ranks of the Nation of Yahweh and become a member of the Brotherhood. Rozier jumped at the chance. He had found his calling, and he wasn’t about to let it pass him by. On or around September 5, 1986, Yahweh ben Yahweh handed Rozier new white robes and a white turban. Balanced on top of the garments was a 12-inch blade. Yahweh ben Yahweh explained to Rozier that to become a member of the Brotherhood, he would have to prove his worth.

Rozier understood.

Raymond Kelly drank more than he should have, but not so much that he was dumb enough to try and drive home. As the bars of Miami closed up, the mechanic laid down in his car in the parking lot of the Teepee Lounge and let the light winds flowing through the open windows drift him off to sleep.

As Kelly slept, Rozier and fellow member of the Brotherhood Carl Perry walked the streets of South Miami looking for the right person. The qualifications were minimal – the right person was white. Male. Female. Tall. Short. None of that mattered. As long as they were white, they would do. Still, Rozier couldn’t settle on anyone he and his partner passed. Too many couples. Too many bystanders. Too much light. Not enough light. There was always something getting in the way.

The two men cut through the Teepee Lounge parking lot when they spotted Kelly sleeping. Rozier pulled out his sword and walked up to the car. He thought of what Yahweh ben Yahweh taught him, ‘when they kill one of us, we kill one of them”. It was the lay of the Nation of Yahweh; for every dead black man, a white man had to pay.

Robert Rozier, one time defensive end for the Saint Louis Cardinals, drove his sword into Raymond Kelly’s chest. He pulled the blade out and stabbed again. And again. Kelly never woke up. He never made a sound.

Rozier was shaking as adrenaline pumped through his veins. He needed to bring a token back to Yahweh ben Yahweh – proof that he had carried out his mission, so Rozier took his blade and cut off Kelly’s right ear. Between the shaking and the blood, Rozier lost his grip on the ear and it fell from his hand. He searched around Kelly, and the ground around him, but he couldn’t find the ear anywhere. Worrying that he was taking too long, Rozier cut off Kelly’s left ear. This time, he held on.

When he presented the ear to Yahweh ben Yahweh, Rozier was named a Death Angel, a title given to select members of the Brotherhood. Yahweh ben Yahweh was so proud of Rozier that he let the newest member of his elite squad out of his chores the next day to celebrate. Rozier went to the movies.

Cecil Branch, or “Big Man” as his friends called him, wasn’t a fan of the Nation of Yahweh. On more than one occasion, he has been harassed by members of the cult who stood on the streets asking for donations. Usually, Branch would make his way past them without incident, but on this day, something pushed Branch over the edge. As a woman from the cult asked for a donation, Branch shoved her away. The woman screamed out, and the other members all began yelling “Yahweh! Yahweh!” As Branch drove off, one of the members took down his license plate.

Three members of the Brotherhood visited Branch at his home. Before they could carry out their mission, Branch chased them off. They returned to Yahweh ben Yahweh and explained their failure.

Yahweh ben Yahweh sent out four of his Death Angels, including Rozier. The Death Angels forced their way into Branch’s home, tied him to a chair, and gagged him. The Death Angels proceeded to stab Branch twenty five times before cutting off his right ear.

Rudy Broussard and Anthony Brown weren’t happy about the Nation of Yahweh buying the apartment building they lived in, and they let their opposition be known to anyone who would listen. On Halloween 1986, Yahweh ben Yahweh sent Rozier, along with two other Death Angels, to silence the men.

Broussard was lured out of his apartment and shot in the head. Brown heard the shot and ran. Rozier caught up and tackled Brown to the ground. As Brown begged for his life, one of the Death Angels pulled the trigger in front of a group of witnesses.

Rozier was arrested that night. He offered to tell the authorities everything he knew.

As Rozier filled in the police and FBI on the actions of the Nation of Yahweh, other members of the Brotherhood committed an endless list of horrible crimes, including the firebombing of a black neighborhood in Delray Beach. Yahweh ben Yahweh’s public persona grew, and to many in Miami he was seen as a hero. The Nation of Yahweh opened grocery stores and drove out drug dealers in low income neighborhoods. They built schools and apartment houses. They emphasised the importance of hard work. The Nation of Yahweh branched out of Miami and into other American cities. Yahweh ben Yahweh, a man who claimed to be the rebirth of Jesus Christ and called for the death of Jews, was accepted by other millionaires as one of their own. On October 7, 1990, Yahweh ben Yahweh appeared before the Miami Chamber of Commerce where Mayor Xavier Suarez proclaimed the day be marked as “Yahweh ben Yahweh Day.”

A month later, Yahweh ben Yahweh would be arrested for a variety of crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder. Robert Rozier was the state’s key witness. The judge threw out a third of charges against Yahweh ben Yahweh due to a lack of evidence. In the end, Yahweh ben Yahweh was convicted on RICO charges. Rozier spent a decade in prison, and was placed under witness protection upon his release in 1996.

On February 5, 1999, police in Cameron Park, California arrested Robert Ramses for bouncing a $66 check to an auto parts store. As Ramses sat in a cell, Cameron Park police tracked total of 29 bounced checks for video rentals, groceries, and bar tabs totaling more than two thousand dollars, enough to bring the misdemeanor charge up to a felony. Ramses then confessed to more than the checks, he revealed that his real name was Robert Rozier. Rozier was sure that once the Cameron police checked, they would realize they couldn’t charge him with the checks.

He was wrong. The state of California not only charged Rozier with fraud, but under their three strike law, the conviction meant that his sentence could be nothing less than twenty-five to life. Roizer is currently serving his sentence in  Mule Creek State Prison, home of Charles Manson and Lyle Menendez. He will be up for parole in 2024.

In 2001, after serving eighteen years, Yahweh ben Yahweh was released from his cell. As a part of his probation, ben Yahweh was ordered to stay away from the Nation of Yahweh, which is still active to this day.

In 2006, Yahweh ben Yahweh was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His attorney petitioned the U.S. District Court to allow the cult leader to visit his cult again so that he could “die with dignity”. Despite the fact that Yahweh ben Yahweh ordered the murders of at least fourteen people, despite the fact that he ordered the firebombing of an American neighborhood, despite his use of violence to build his empire, the court repealed his parole. Before his death in 2007, Yahweh ben Yahweh was allowed to return to the Nation of Yahweh.

It is easy to read about Yahweh ben Yahweh and his cult and look at it as a story about race. It’s impossible to say that isn’t part of it, but I don’t think that should be the takeaway. There’s a deeper horror to it than a man who preached hatred and ordered murders. This is a story about a man who preyed on people who needed a leader. A man who used the money and power of the downtrodden to create an empire built on anger and fear. A man whose empire of anger was accepted by the rich and powerful of a major American city simply because he too was wealthy. The business leaders of Miami may not have known that Yahweh ben Yahweh and his Brotherhood were killers, but they knew that he openly called for the death of others and still they honored him. There are those who value wealth over humanity, who believe power is more important than people. That, to me, is the real horror.