Yusuf Bey IV grew up in prominent yet troubled bakery
By Mary Fricker, Bob Butler and Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Yusuf Bey’s businesses and influence in the community grew, despite two unsolved killings of bakery employees: Ronald Allen in 1982 and Peter Kaufman in 1986.
But fissures began to appear in bakery life in the late 1980s, not long after Yusuf Bey IV was born in 1986. An early dispute erupted in 1988, when three mothers of Yusuf Bey’s children gathered up their courage and left, after what they say was years of sexual abuse, and took their nine children with them. That departure, combined with the fact that many of Bey’s other children were no longer minors, no doubt reduced the welfare payments that the women said Bey had been collecting for some of his 42 children.
In 1992, Bey got a license for a security guard business he called YBMB Security Department, following in the footsteps of the Nation of Islam, which had started its own security company, N.O.I. Security Agency, in 1990.
Ex-felons have to meet strict standards to be security guards in California, which may have limited the employment of the young men Bey said he most wanted to help. Still, the security business grew in importance for the Bey family in the 1990s, especially as some of Bey’s beliefs began costing him bakery customers.
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For example, in 1993 Bey lost about 20 San Francisco outlets for his bakery goods, according to the San Jose Mercury News, after gay activists circulated a videotape of remarks against homosexuality he made during his Sunday sermons broadcast on cable television.
“He said a lot of vicious things against all groups, gays being the most graphic,” Gatsby Contreras, a buyer for the Rainbow Grocery cooperative in San Francisco’s Mission district, told the Oakland Tribune in 1994. The comments caused the cooperative to end its 17-year relationship with the bakery.
Bey later told the San Francisco Chronicle that the business cutoffs cost him thousands of dollars.
In 1994, Bey ran for mayor of Oakland and got 5 percent of the vote. His anti-Semitic comments and his defense of a speech by Khalid Abdul Muhammad at a Bey fundraiser, in which Muhammad railed against Christians, Jews, whites and others, cost Bey even more customers.
A coalition of 400 Jews, Muslims and Christians took out a half-page ad in the Oakland Tribune denouncing “voices of hate that seek to divide our community.”
In what may have been a sign of financial stress, Bey was years late paying $124,364 in taxes from 1994 to 1998, according to county records.
The year 1994, when Bey’s son Yusuf Bey IV was 8 years old, was also the beginning of 13 years of violent episodes chronicled by police.
– In March 1994, bakery followers Nedir Bey, Basheer Muhammad, Abaz Bey and Larry Chin attacked and tortured a man at an apartment complex at 530 24th St. in Oakland, police said. Officers who tried to intervene were threatened by a belligerent crowd of about 30 young Muslim men, police said. Eventually they left. The four men served brief sentences, mainly home detention, after pleading no contest to one felony count of false imprisonment.
No charges were brought against those in the crowd. Police said most of the assault was carried out by Nedir Bey, in Abaz Bey’s apartment. Yusuf Bey publicly defended his “adopted sons” Nedir and Abaz. Muhammad was the manager of the apartment house.
– Three months later, Yusuf Bey’s son Akbar Bey was arrested on charges of possession of a stolen handgun. Three months after that, he was shot and killed outside an Oakland nightclub.
-In 1995, Tarika Lewis reported to the Alameda County child abuse hot line that Yusuf Bey had been sexually abusing one of his sons. The boy was interviewed by the police and Child Protective Services; he denied any abuse. The same year, a teenage employee at the bakery disclosed to her probation officer, and the probation officer reported to police, that she had been molested by the “Muslim minister that ran the Muslim bakery and dry cleaners located at 5836 San Pablo Ave. in Oakland,” according to a police report.
-In May 1996 police officers were dispatched to a fight on E. 14th Street where Your Black Muslim Bakery was providing security. The security team and others assaulted a man and then fled in a vehicle registered to bakery member Dahood Bey, police claimed in their report. No charges were filed.
A fractured family
In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law a bill that, among other things, required many welfare recipients to get jobs. Nedir Bey tried to start E.M. Health Services to train welfare recipients as home health aides. He got city leaders to loan him $1.1 million, despite the violent episode in March 1994.
He used the $1.1 million to hire himself, his family, some bakery women including Yusuf Bey’s only legal wife, Farieda Bey, and others, records show. But he did not provide the promised training, and he did not repay the loan. The company failed in 1999. The next year, Yusuf Bey ousted Nedir Bey from the bakery, said Yusuf Bey’s son-in-law Ali Saleem Bey.
“Nedir was asked to leave in 2000 because of a series of incidents that started with the kidnapping-torture case in 1994 and ended when the FBI began looking into the EM Health Services collapse,” Saleem Bey said. “We, the board of directors, weren’t comfortable discussing business with Nedir at the table so Dr. Bey asked him to leave.”
Nedir Bey did not respond to three requests for comment. No charges were filed against him in the EM Health Services matter.
In the four years from September 1996 to September 2000, police recorded eight instances of beatings, guns and mayhem involving bakery people. Rarely were charges filed.
-In September 1996, a man was walking by the Black Muslim Bakery Outlet at the Coliseum when two Muslims assaulted him after a perceived disrespectful statement.
-In March 1997, a tenant in the 24th Street apartments claimed he had been beaten by Basheer Muhammad and others. Four men were arrested, but charges were later dismissed. Residents at the apartments said there were many threats and confrontations at the apartment building and calls were placed to 911, but police often did not respond.
-In August 1997, a bakery employee went to the bakery to collect wages owed him. He was assaulted and lost consciousness and filed his police report from Highland Hospital.
-In May 1998, a man accompanied by Basheer Muhammad was arrested with a 9mm handgun.
-In October 1998, a police officer investigating a firearm brandishing incident recovered a shotgun and pistol from a vehicle parked in front of bakery.
-In October 1998, men in suits and bow ties assaulted two people on 55th Street. Officers heard a gunshot. Twenty minutes later there was a report of fighting at 24th St. and Telegraph. A store clerk reported 30 to 40 Muslims assaulted a person and a gunshot was heard.
-In June 2000, Abdul Bey was arrested for having sawed off shotgun. Officers searching his residence said they were confronted by about 20 of his friends.
-In August 2000, a bakery employee tried to collect his wages and was assaulted by members.
The first incident involving Bey IV that police recorded was in El Cerrito in September 2001, when he was detained after failing to observe a yield sign. Police found he had a magazine loaded with 9 mm bullets. At the time, he was 15 years old.
The next June, one of the three mothers who left the bakery in 1988 feared that Yusuf Bey was trying to molest their teenage daughter. She went to police, and Oakland police Officer James Saleda launched an aggressive investigation. In September 2002, the Alameda County district attorney charged Bey with one felony count of lewd conduct with a minor. The charge referred to the woman’s conception of her oldest child with Yusuf, when she was 13.
In requesting a temporary restraining order against Bey having anything to do with her or certain members of her family, the woman said Yusuf Bey told their son Yusuf Bey V that she “could wind up floating in the river.”
Charges pour forth
On Nov. 14, 2002, the district attorney expanded the charges against Bey to 27 felony sex-crime accounts, reflecting allegations of 20 years of sexual abuse of women and girls from 1976 to 1995.
In 1965, Bey’s father, Theron H. Stephens, was also charged with sex crimes — three felony counts of rape for having sex with a minor. The girl testified against him, and he was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, according to court records. Stephens died in 1988 at age 83.
A judge set Yusuf Bey’s bail at $1 million.
“My bail was $1 million, can you imagine that?” Bey said to his followers in his Sunday sermon 10 days later. “I have to go to my brother’s vest pocket. I don’t have no kind of money like that, but my brother’s vest pocket had the money, all praise due to Allah.”
That wasn’t exactly true.
Three of the women who bore his children — his legal wife, Farieda Bey; Bey IV’s mother, Daulet Bey; and Madeeah Bey — deeded property to the bakery to secure his bail and pay some of his legal bills, Farieda Bey said in court documents. When Yusuf died the following year, and Daulet Bey’s son Antar took control of the bakery, Antar refused to return 709 and 711 32nd Street in Oakland to Farieda, she said and real estate records show.
In the same Nov. 24 sermon, Yusuf Bey vowed – to the applause of his followers – to fight the charges.
“I teach my sons, never be the aggressor. But if someone aggresses against you, fight like hell,” he said. “You want to destroy me? I’m going to destroy you. ”
“How can people who have done so much harm to us have the nerve to sit on a bench and judge me?” he asked his followers. “I’m not going in with my head down. I’m fighting all the way.”
He ended his comments with a message to the prosecutor in the case, deputy district attorney Teresa Ortega.
“DA lady, I don’t know why she’s got it out for me like she’s got it out for me. But that’s all right. I got Allah with me. I got brothers on the street with me. I got my righteous family with me,” Bey said.
Ortega also got a bullet in the mail without a return address, said an Oakland attorney who requested anonymity because Ortega has not spoken publicly about the incident. Ortega declined to comment.
Bey died the next year, before trial. According to the death certificate, he had colon cancer.
After the patriarch
But bakery-related violence didn’t skip a beat. Within months, his chosen successor, Waajid Aljawwaad, was slain. Yusuf Bey’s son Antar Bey took control of the bakery in 2004, but he was killed in a carjacking, and in November 2005 Bey IV became bakery CEO. By that time, many Bey family and longtime bakery members had left, frightened away by the violence.
Forced out were Farieda Bey, her children and their supporters, including security manager John Bey and Farieda’s son-in-law Saleem Bey.
Winning control of the bakery were Daulet Bey, her children, including Antar Bey and Bey IV, and their supporters, including Nedir Bey and Basheer Muhammad.
Farieda had begun calling herself “unmarried” in real estate documents in 2001, after a decade of calling herself “married.” No record of a divorce could be found, and Farieda did not respond to requests for comment. Daulet had eight children with Yusuf, the most of any of his women. Her youngest child was born in 1998, at least a decade after most of Yusuf Bey’s mothers had stopped bearing children.
The Farieda faction repeatedly tried without success to get Oakland police and politicians to help them regain control of the bakery. Eventually, Saleem Bey took the story to Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, who was slain before he could publish it.
In the four years after Yusuf Bey’s death in 2003, police would report at least 45 instances of fraud, violence and/or weapons violations by Bey IV and his associates, ending in Bailey’s killing Aug. 2, 2007.
Officials claim Bey IV induced two of his employees to kill Bailey to keep him from publishing the story about the power struggle at the bakery and the bakery’s bankruptcy. Bey IV has admitted being upset about the stories Bailey wrote in 2002 when his father was arrested, but he has denied being involved in Bailey’s slaying.
Most of the bakery family was not involved in the fraud and violence at the bakery, Saleem Bey said.
“When all of the violence was taking place, none of the people who had run the bakery over the years was around. Ninety-nine percent of the Bey family left after Waajid disappeared. The only people named Bey who were in the bakery then were Antar and Yusuf IV. The people they brought to the bakery were outsiders. They weren’t really Muslims,” Saleem Bey said.
A raid of the bakery by more than 200 police officers the day after Bailey was killed, Bey IV’s arrest during the raid, and the closing of the bakery by the health department a few days later brought to a close 25 years of violent episodes related to Your Black Muslim Bakery, from the unsolved killings of bakery employees Allen and Kaufman in 1982 and 1986, respectively, to the Bailey slaying in 2007.
Much of what is known about these incidents comes from police work. Still, police could not stop the violence.
Several police sources told The Chauncey Bailey Project that police did not lower the boom on the bakery because its message of black empowerment enjoyed open support from leading politicians and citizens and because police feared Oakland citizens would view action against the Beys as racist.
Chauncey Bailey reporters and researchers contributed to this project.
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–Yusuf Bey built business empire with questionable tactics
–Welfare money-maker for senior Bey
–Bey’s security firms important financial arm of his businesses
–Yusuf Bey IV grew up in prominent yet troubled bakery
–Bailey suspects, associates left behind $6 million trail of bad loans
–Security business at Marriott earns praise
–The Oakland Post pushes forward despite loss of its prolific editor
–Chauncey Bailey’s family still in pain two years after killing