The story of Yahweh Ben Yahweh is ripe for a 2019 revisit. Born Hulon Mitchell Jr., Yahweh Ben Yahweh founded the namesake Nation of Yahweh in 1979, a loose branch of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. He was reportedly influenced by the Nation of Islam and championed God and biblical prophets as black, while condemning the white devils. Through Yahweh Ben Yahwehthe son of Godblack salvation would finally be fully achieved.

Oxygens new documentaryUncovered: The Cult of Yahweh Ben Yahweh(which airs Sunday) attempts to chronicle his rise from small-time prophet to convict serving time for conspiracy to commit murder. Relying predominantly on testimony from then-law enforcement agents and local s, it tells the story of an eccentric man with an affinity for stark white robes and turbans embroidered with gold. He gained a following for his spirit sermons exalting self-reliance and urban renewal. As for how the documentary tells that story, its dismal. The nearly hour-and-a-half program gets so bogged down in the details of a multi-decade narrative that it loses all semblance of intrigue into an enigmatic preacher in the pursuit of brevity.

At its peak, the Nation of Yahweh hoed churches in 45 cities and 16 countries, according to the documentary. They claimed to have millions of followers listening to every word of their singular leader. But initially, Yahweh Ben Yahweh hoed his church in the Temple of Love multi-e complex inside a predominately black neighborhood called Liberty City. It garnered the intrigue of local press who highlighted his efforts to clean up impoverished communities. In Opa-Locka, Florida, he was praised for turning a rundown apartment building into a thriving of followers. But as his power grew, so too did his abe. It would later be revealed that he forcibly and illegally kicked out current tenants to make room for Nation of Yahweh members. Residents Anthony Brown and Rudolph Brosard ly spoke outa price they paid for.

Brown and Broussard were shot outside the apartment building in October 1986. It wasnt the first time the Nation of Yahweh allegedly killed their contrarians. In 1986, nine people were murdered and had their ears severed throughout -Dade County. National of Yahweh member Robert Rozier served 22 years for the killings. Uncovered spends almost as much time on Rozier, who ratted out Yahweh as the mastermind behind the attacks. He claimed Yahweh once said, Bring me the ears of the white devil.

The severed ear killings arent the only Nation of Yahweh-connected murders. In 1981, former member Aston Green was found decapitated in the Florida , with his faced bruised, his left eye swollen shut and his body covered in shoe marks. The only former member of Nation of Yahweh featured in the documentaryKhalil Amanitells the story. The day of the murder, Amani says, he was standing guard as the Yahweh brothers beat Green, wrapped him in a rug with tape around his face, and shoved him into the trunk of a car, allegedly to later behead and dispose of him.

Later, Greens roommates Carlton Carey and Mildred Banks went to police with about the killer, presumably a member of the Nation of Yahweh. Upon returning home, Carey and Banks are ambhed outside their front door. Carey is killed while Banks is shot, stabbed with a machete, and found by her neighbors, who took her to International Hospital. She survived but couldnt identy her assailants.

In relying solely on Amanis testimony, the documentary fails in its ic duty. Amanis tale of witnessing Greens beating is never interrogated by the film. Its unclear why he never stepped in or went to the police. His words are taken as the truth of a noble man who left everything, including his we and his kids, to free himself from an abive and now speaks out about his horric experiences.

Hes not the only one unjtly spared. Yahweh Ben Yahwehs defense attorney Jayne Weintraub is not pressed on why she took on such a controversial figure, one she ultimately got off free on state murder charges in 1992. (Yahweh Ben Yahweh would still go on to serve 11 years of an 18-year sentence for a federal charge of conspiracy to commit murder.) What could have been an immersive dive into another charismatic man who ed his power for abe and manipulation turns into a Wikipedia page retelling of a 1980s criminal.

Like many leaders, Ben Yahweh was also alleged to have slept with his female followers. The documentary claims he sent fathers away to vario . cities to expand the churchs message only to return and find their families living with Ben Yahweh. Amani provides his own testimony to back up this claim.

Its unfortunate that a narrative involving racial politics and allegations of abe falls so flat today. Part of its dullness lies in the traditional framework of a cable program, where commercial breaks spur rough clfhangers. Leaving Neverland and Surviving R. Kelly changed the TV documentary with expansive interviews, cinematic imagery and nuanced storytelling. The standard setionalized Oxygen documentary cant begin to compare.

The documentary strikes its strongest chord when Yahweh Ben Yahwehs daughter Venita Mitchell provides her perspective. Mitchell is distraught and unwavering in her belief that her father was entirely innocent. She rails against the demonization of a activist and cries profely on screen. Its in these few moments with Mitchell that its clear jt how important this story is and what the ramications are of the le of an infamo prophet.

Yahweh ben Yahweh was released in 2001. Less than a year and a half later, he died at the age of 71 after contracting cancer. He leaves behind him a fascinating, torrid legacy. Unfortunately, Uncovered does more regurgitating of old than unveiling of worthwhile updates.

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