Two more arrests made in liquor store attacks

Contra Costal Times/January 4, 2006
By Guy Ashley

Two more men have been arrested in connection with a rampage through West Oakland during which two liquor stores were vandalized by people claiming to be angry about alcohol sales to blacks.

The arrests of Demetrius L. Harvey and Dyamen N. Williams, both 19, bring to six the number of people facing charges in the Nov. 23 vandalism spree that left the two stores badly damaged. All six suspects have affiliations with Your Black Muslim Bakery, a chain of East Bay businesses run by Black Muslims who have expressed deep concern about the large number of liquor stores in areas of Oakland populated largely by blacks, said police Sgt. Dominique Arotzarena.

The Oakland-based group is inspired by the Nation of Islam but has no affiliation with the Nation of Islam or its leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan. Investigators had focused on the Oakland group after it was reported that the vandals were black men wearing suits and bow ties, attire commonly worn by Black Muslim men.

Police reports say some of the vandals asked store employees if they were Muslims. When the employees said they were, police said the vandals chastised the employees for selling alcohol to blacks, then smashed glass refrigerator doors and knocked liquor bottles from store shelves. People of the Islamic faith are forbidden from consuming alcohol.

The two targeted stores -- San Pablo Market and Liquor and New York Market -- sustained damage estimated at $15,000 each. Both Harvey and Williams were linked to the vandalism spree by witnesses who identified them from a surveillance videotape that caught much of the vandalism at the San Pablo Market.

Both men claim to have been employees of the bakery's headquarters on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, Arotzarena said. Police are seeking charges against the two men of vandalism and false imprisonment. The charges also would include "hate crime'' enhancements due to the belief that the two stores were targeted because they are owned by immigrants from Islamic countries in the Middle East.

In addition to the six men arrested in the case, Arotzarena said, police have obtained arrest warrants for two other men in connection with the vandalism spree.

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