Your Black Muslim Bakery members suspected in Bailey’s death
Those arrested included Yusef Bey IV, the son of the Your Black Muslim Bakery founders.
Evidence recovered during a morning police raid at the North Oakland bakery and nearby houses links members of the organization to Thursday’s ambush killing of Bailey, who had been working on a story about the group and its finances, authorities said.
The seven have not been formally arrested for any murders, including the slaying of Bailey, but homicide Lt. Ersie Joyner III said police believe they have the people responsible for the death of Bailey in custody.
Sources told the Oakland Tribune that the evidence was a shotgun seized at the bakery that was used to kill Bailey, 57, in downtown Oakland.
Those in custody Friday were arrested for past assaults, gun attacks and a kidnapping. Two others are still being sought by police. Lorna Brown, an Oakland attorney who has represented the Beys in the past, did not return calls for comment.
Bailey, a former Oakland Tribune reporter, was walking to the Oakland Post when he was gunned down at 14th and Alice streets about 7:25 a.m. Walter Riley, an attorney for the Oakland Post, said Bailey had been working on a story about “the financial status of the organization” and the “activities of a number of people who were working in the organization,” including possible criminal activity.
Riley said the newspaper was unable to verify key details of the story and decided not to run it, possibly abandoning the article altogether.
Bailey was known for not shirking from any source, said Donna Ayo, a founder of the community group BARONS, or Brave Academic Rise of N’powered Students. Bridges, who knew Bailey for 14 years, said that included the Black Muslims.
“He was forthright and gave (the group) their due when they were doing positive things,” she said. “When they started doing negative things, things that harmed the community, he had to notify thecommunity. … He made a decision.”
Ayo continued, “I know about the article they did not approve of. But they’re not above the board. They (the black Muslims) don’t get a pass.”
The late black Muslim patriarch Yusef Bey founded the bakery four decades ago. He originally built the organization on ideals of black empowerment, respect and self-reliance. In recent years, the group has been tied to murders, racism, sexual assaults on young girls, and vandalism.
The bakery and its affiliated businesses occupy several storefronts along both sides of San Pablo Avenue near the Emeryville and Berkeley borders.
The Nation of Islam, an umbrella organization for Muslims nationwide, is not affiliated with the bakery, said Asst. Chief Howard Jordan. For two months, police were looking into the bakery at 5832 San Pablo Ave. and its connection to separate incidents of violence, including a number of killings, shootings, robberies and a kidnapping.
During Friday’s pre-dawn raid of the North Oakland bakery, more than 200 heavily armed police officers seized weapons from inside, spent ammunition from the rooftop and detained 19 people for questioning.
Police broke down doors and used stun grenades to disorient people to gain entry. No one was hurt in the raids, which began at 5 a.m. Police also raided homes at 1083 59th St., 1085 59th St. and 972 Aileen St., but it was not clear what was found there.
During the raid, authorities also uncovered conditions so unsanitary that the Alameda County Health Department has closed down the bakery.
Police also found filth and waste, including dead rats on the roof and rat droppings in the bakery, that they believe were leaking into drainage lines, prompting them to call in Vector Control, the city’s code compliance unit, State Fish and Game and the Alameda County District Attorney’s environmental crimes unit. Fines for such violations can be up to $5,000 a day.
Police said they had probable cause arrest warrants for several men with ties to the organization but were still trying to determine if they were among those detained. Police said some of those detained had arrest warrants from other police agencies and parolee violations. Police would not give specific details about the cases they believe are linked to the people associated with the bakery, but did say some were committed last year and earlier this year.
Two are believed to be shooting deaths of two men last month within a few blocks of the bakery, in pre-dawn hours. One was the July 12 shooting death of Michael J. Wills Jr., 36, who had addresses in both Oakland and Fremont. He was gunned down in the 6200 block of San Pablo Avenue.
Four days earlier, Odell Roberson Jr., 31, was shot to death in the 1000 block of 60th Street. Police suspected the murders were connected because of the circumstances and similarities of weapons used.
At least one case possibly linked to the bakery involves the kidnapping several weeks ago of some women whom a ransom was demanded for before they were able to escape, sources said. One of the shootings possibly resulted from a love triangle, sources said. Jordan said the warrants were obtained so that police could seek evidence needed “to further our investigations into these different crimes.” “(The men named in the warrants) are very violent individuals who need to be in custody,” he said.
Police from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore and Alameda assisted with the raids.
Members of the Bey family appeared to be distancing themselves from Yusuf Bey IV on Friday.
For the past 3 1/2 to 4 years, the majority of the family was not involved in the bakery, said Shamir Yusuf Bey, son of the patriarch Bey, who died in 2003.
Speaking Friday evening in front of the bakery’s shattered storefront window, Bey said his father ran the business legally for 34 years and that the situation does not reflect his father’s legacy of helping the downtrodden to become leaders.
“We appreciate all the support for our father over the years,” Bey said, adding that he and his “brothers” standing beside him in tailored suits had no felonies or misdemeanors.
Bey, dressed in a black suit and white bowtie, refused to take questions but said another press conference will be held Monday.
Bailey’s death Thursday stunned the Bay Area, where Bailey had been a prominent journalist for decades.
Bailey wrote about Your Black Muslim Bakery and its founder Yusef Bey for the Tribune when Bey faced prosecution for a number of charges stemming from an original allegation that he fathered the child of a 13-year-old girl.
Bailey’s articles mixed coverage of the allegations with lavish praise for Bey from his supporters.
One 2002 article, headlined, “Accused black leader given support,” quoted a string of sympathizers, including a woman who said, “Jesus is the only one I know who is perfect.”
Bailey also served as the news director at the East Bay’s black-oriented KSBT SoulBeat Television.
And some say Bailey had a tumultuous relationship with members of the Black Muslim group.
A longtime friend of Bailey’s who did not want to be named said the journalist got threats “all the time” from the Black Muslim Bakery and its supporters when Bailey hosted a segment on the Soul Beat television show. “This was like 10 years ago,” the friend said.
Many of the threats came during call-in time on Bailey’s show, and many were taped on the program.
The man later came on Bailey’s Soul Beat segment, the friend said, and the pair seemed to have a better relationship after that. Bailey wasn’t the only journalist to run afoul with the group. Stephen Buel, the editor of the East Bay Express, said the newspaper had a brick through the window in late 2002 following a series chronicling the dark side of the group.
A reporter at the newspaper received threats following a story about the death of Bey in 2003. “We took them seriously and ultimately (the reporter) worked outside the office,” Buel said.
Bailey, who was released from the Tribune in 2005 because of conflict of interest issues, began covering the group again shortly after taking over as editor of the Oakland Post this summer.
A memorial for Bailey, with flowers, notes and mementos had been erected at the spot where he was gunned down and community members and those who knew Bailey said he will be missed.
“We need reporters like Chauncey who say, `Listen, community, wake up. Something’s wrong here, and if this is it, let’s look at it and examine it and fix it,” said friend Ayo. “The thing about the Muslims, those things could be fixed. I feel like they just lost their way.”
Oakland Tribune staff writers Douglas Fischer, Angela Hill and Angela Woodall contributed to this report.