Commentary: Overseas Press Club calls for re-opening of Chauncey Bailey murder investigation
November 17, 2008
Hon. Edmund G. Brown
California Department of Justice
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
The Overseas Press Club of America, a world-wide organization of six hundred international correspondents and editors, has been defending the rights of journalists around the world for nearly seven decades. It is rare that we find it necessary to speak out for freedom of the press in the United States. But the case of Chauncey Bailey, murdered editor of the Oakland Post, demands that we join the voices of so many others in calling for a fresh investigation of his murder. Now that you have agreed to open an investigation, as has the Alameda County District Attorney, we hope that this case can finally be resolved.
The Oakland police and the detective in charge of the investigation, Sargeant Longmire, have so muddled the investigation, shown favoritism and failed to bring out basic evidence that the case built up against Devaughndre Broussard seems unlikely to stand up in court. Sargeant Longmire had an association with Yusuf Bey IV, Broussard’s employer and head of the now-defunct, Your Black Muslim Bakery. Bey has a long criminal record and is now under arrest for a kidnapping. Within hours of the murder, Sgt. Longmire had decided to charge Broussard without bothering to follow up several important leads. Two years earlier, he had interfered on Bey’s behalf in two criminal investigations being conducted by other officers. Presumably, you are far more familiar with these and many other details than we are.
Our concern arises because a journalist has been silenced by murder. Bailey, as you know, had been investigating the Your Black Muslin Bakery. We note that Paul Cobb, publisher of the Post Newspaper Group, has since reported threats on his life. Some employees at the Oakland Post have quit for fear of violence, advertising is drying up and the paper itself may become a second victim of the assassination.
Murder is a common way of silencing journalists in some other countries but is fortunately rare in the United States. Chauncey Bailey’s case should not become an example of how to silence the press here. The mayor of Oakland has ordered a new investigation and at the same time requested your intervention. The mayor and others clearly believe, as we do, that this case should be investigated anew by an organization with the powers and prestige of your office.
We ask for the courtesy of an early reply.
Very truly yours,
Jeremy Main Kevin McDermott
Freedom of the Press Committee