Bakery Handyman Booked In Bailey Slaying

Associated Press/August 3, 2007

Oakland -- A 19-year-old Oakland man affiliated with a Black Muslim splinter group was booked into jail Saturday in connection with the brazen daytime murder of a journalist who his colleagues said was working on a piece about the group, jail officials confirmed.

On Friday police raided the Your Black Muslim Bakery organization -- which consists of a chain of bakeries, a security service, a school and other businesses -- and arrested seven people.

Among those picked up were Devaughndre Broussard, who worked as a handyman for the group, and the bakery's CEO, Yusef Bey IV, son of the organization's founder.

Police believe Broussard was the masked man who gunned down 57-year-old Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey on Thursday as the journalist walked to work. Police said they also recovered a gun during the raid linked to Bailey's slaying.

The others held were suspected of involvement in two older murders and a kidnapping that had been under investigation for the past year, police said.

The arrests cap a bloody four years since the death of Your Black Muslim Bakery's founder, Dr. Yusuf Bey, who opened his doors nearly 40 years ago hoping to inspire Oakland's poor to become "respectable and productive individuals."

A series of recent legal and financial woes have plagued the once-thriving business, recently caught up in an apparent struggle for control of the organization.

Pledging to empower the city's black community, Bey began selling bean and carrot pies amid the social upheaval of 1968 as he espoused the tenets of the growing Black Muslim movement of the time.

A member of the bakery said at a sidewalk news conference late Friday that the alleged crimes do not reflect his group's principles.

"This is not a reflection of Dr. Yusuf Bey," said Shamir Yusuf Bey, who, like all bakery members, takes Yusuf Bey's surname. "We are all sons of Dr. Yusuf Bey. He has taught us morals, he has taught us how to be advocates in our community."

The bakery organization is a regional splinter group that is not affiliated with the Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, though Shamir Yusuf Bey wore that group's trademark black suit and bow tie as he spoke in front of the newly boarded-up bakery building.

The group has deep roots in Oakland's life and politics, and for decades it played a positive role in Oakland's black community, said Cal State East Bay professor Benjamin Bowser, a sociologist who has chronicled the city's history.

Bowser said the group served as an example of upward economic mobility in an impoverished community, and its members tried to serve as a buffer against the rising drug trade. The bakery has also long provided ex-convicts with one of the few places they could work after being released from prison.

"The Black Muslims along with the Black Panthers were instrumental in really keeping the widespread mass marketing of drugs out of east and west Oakland in the late 1960s, until the government focused on taking the Panthers out," Bowser said.

Still, any goodwill that Bey enjoyed from the public began to wane in 1994 when he ran for mayor of Oakland. He received less than 5 percent of the vote after a campaign in which he said women "belong back in the home" and that gays should not be allowed to teach school.

In September 1994, Bey's son, Akbar Bey, 21, was shot and killed outside an Oakland club.

Bey's organization began to further unravel in 2002, when he was accused of raping a girl who had worked for him. In 2003, legal proceedings began after the victim accused him of raping her when she was 10 years old. She also claimed that Bey fathered her child, who was born when she was 13.

Bey died of colon cancer that same year. Waajid Aljawwaad Bey, anointed to lead the multimillion dollar empire, was found dead five months later, buried in the Oakland hills. That crime has never been solved.

In June 2005 the leader of the Bey security service, John Bey, was shot during an attack outside his Oakland home. He survived, and his attacker was never found. Later that year, Bey's 23-year-old son, Antar Bey, the organization's heir apparent, was killed in what police called a botched carjacking attempt at a gas station in North Oakland.

Months after Antar Bey's murder, his brother, Bey IV, took over the bakery empire. He was arrested and charged with being the ringleader of a Black Muslim group caught by surveillance cameras in November 2005 smashing up two Oakland corner stores. The men berated the stores' Muslim owners for selling alcohol to the black community even though alcohol is forbidden by Islam.

An attorney for Bey IV, Lorna Brown, did not return calls seeking comment.

Along with the violence and apparent power struggles, Your Black Muslim Bakery has also been plagued by financial problems in recent years. Records show the company filed for bankruptcy last October.

In a declaration filed with the bankruptcy court earlier this year, Bey IV recounted the difficulties he faced in operating the businesses. He acknowledged that he was "inexperienced in the business world" and in the past had "received advice and consultation from those who had proven to me they did not have my best interests at heart."

Bey IV said in court documents that the bankruptcy action was taken to stop foreclosure by a mortgage company against the bakery building and an adjacent duplex. The bakery also owed $900,000 in debts, including more than $240,000 in federal taxes, at the time of the bankruptcy filing. Its total assets amounted to almost $2 million, records show.

Bey IV said in court that he had been meeting with professional business consultants to help return the bakeries to a solid financial footing.

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