Probation in Oakland liquor store vandalism

Contra Costa Times/April 21, 2006
By Chris Metinko

Oakland -- Two men who pleaded guilty to taking part in the vandalism of two West Oakland liquor stores were sentenced Friday to five years felony probation,

James Watts, 31, and Tamon Halfin, 19, each pleaded no contest to a count of felony vandalism two months ago stemming from the late November rampage. Nearly a dozen men wearing suits and bow ties invaded the San Pablo Liquor Market and New York Market, smashing refrigerator doors and knocking liquor bottles off store shelves.

While neither man received jail time for the crime, Watts will remain in custody since he violated his parole. He could spend up to a year in state prison.

Halfin was released after Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay told the young man he was being given another opportunity and that he could still do good things. He then wished him good luck.

Halfin is expected to return to court May 26 for a restitution hearing. According to the judge, one of the store owners is claiming $26,000 in damage. Watts asked the judge to be excused from the hearing.

A total of eight men and one juvenile were arrested in connection with the liquor store attacks -- allegedly the work of vandals who chastised store employees for selling liquor in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Charges were dismissed against on those arrested, 19-year-old Demetrius Harvey.

The other five men are expected back in court May 12, although one, Dyamen Williams, currently is a fugitive after he failed to appear in court on an unrelated gun charge.

Several of the men have admitted affiliations with the Your Black Muslim Bakery chain, a network of businesses owned and operated by a group that claims inspiration from -- but no affiliation with -- the Nation of Islam or its leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Officials of the bakery chain, including one of the defendants, have publicly criticized the large number of liquor stores in West Oakland and other predominantly black neighborhoods. Consumption of alcohol is strictly forbidden by the Muslim religion.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.