Jailed leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery launches Web site
By Harry Harris and Cecily Burt, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Yusuf Bey IV, jailed leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, is reaching out from his cell to tell the world that he’s not responsible for the shooting death of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey.
And he’s using cyberspace to do it.
Bey IV, with the help of loyal friends and family members, has created a Web site called freethebakerybrothers.org. It features color photos of Bey IV, 22, and his brothers Yusuf Bey V, 21, and Joshua Bey, 20, in addition to blog entries, ads and a poll that asks whether the public thinks the bakery has been fairly treated in the mainstream media.
As of Monday evening, the poll had garnered 10 “no” votes and 7 “yes” votes.
According to the Web site, Bey IV created it so “truths and facts will be allowed to surface without the misuse of our words and biased opinions from mainstream local media.”
Bey IV, Bey V, and associates Tamon Halfin, 21, and Richard Lewis, 24, are being held in local jails awaiting trial on charges in connection with the May 17. 2007 kidnapping and torture of a mother and her daughter.
Joshua Bey also was charged, but pleaded guilty to a lesser felony charge and will serve three years in prison in exchange for his testimony in the case. That surprise decision to testify against his brothers and other accused accomplices caused Bey IV to angrily shout in court that he would no longer consider Joshua Bey his brother.
However, Joshua Bey’s picture appears alongside his brothers’ in several places on the Web site, and his jail contact information is listed.
There have been five blog posts, apparently by Bey IV, since the site was launched. The first, on Aug. 3, refers to the kidnap and torture case and is titled, “YBMB Conspiracy!! Have the REAL criminals been arrested???”
In the last, on Aug. 7, Bey IV asks why local mainstream media continue to link his name to Bailey’s killing, even though Bey IV has not been charged in connection with that crime.
Bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard, 20, has been charged with murder in connection with Bailey’s Aug. 2, 2007, death.
Two of the blog posts refer to a videotape police secretly shot of Bey IV, Joshua Bey, and Halfin inside an interview room at the San Leandro Police Department three days after they were arrested. The videotape shows Bey IV joking and laughing about Bailey’s murder. He tells the others that kept the shotgun used to kill Bailey in his closet.
In one post, Bey IV apologized to Bailey’s friends and family for laughing about his death, attributing it to a natural reaction because Bailey had written “hurtful news articles” about his late father, bakery founder Yusuf Bey, who died in 2003.
In another post, Bey IV claims that he purposely misled the investigators who videotaped the conversation and that he did not say some of the words that were transcribed from the tape, as published in this newspaper and on local television stations.
Sgt. J.D. Nelson, public information officer for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jails, said Bey IV and the others don’t have the free time or access to computer equipment to launch a Web site while in custody. Bey IV remains at Santa Rita county jail in Dublin.
“Obviously, they are getting some help from the outside,” Nelson said.
Robert Talbot, law professor at the University of San Francisco, said there could be several reasons why Bey IV decided to launch the Web site. If he felt the bakery was unfairly maligned, he might want to wage a public relations campaign to create a more positive public image of the bakery.
Another reason might involve the trial and the seating of jurors, he said.
“Potential jurors could actually see the Web site, or be influenced by someone whose opinions have come from the Web site,” Talbot said.
“Hypothetically, if “… that person did get on the jury, they could influence what happened,” he added.
Bay Area criminal defense attorney Michael Cardoza said the blog posts are a modern-day vehicle for Bey IV to try and convince potential jurors that he is being persecuted, without fear of cross-examination. “It allows him to get into evidence things that could never get into trial,” Cardoza said. “(It’s like he’s saying) ‘It’s my blog and I’ll say what I want.'”
Reach Cecily Burt at 510 208-6441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.