Your Black Muslim Bakery Leader Found Guilty of Murder

The longtime leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, a business at the center of a militant black Muslim network in the Oakland, Calif., area, was convicted yesterday of three counts of first-degree murder for ordering the 2007 slayings of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey and two other men.

Yusuf Bey IV, the group’s head, faces a sentence of life with no parole. Bey, who was neatly dressed for court in a pinstripe suit and bow tie, reportedly showed little emotion as jurors found him guilty of ordering Bailey’s death and the deaths of two other men. They were killed during a month-long spree of violence that culminated in the August 2007 shooting of Bailey.

Bailey was shot while walking to his office at the newspaper. At the time, he was working on an investigative report about Bey’s group. It was widely assumed that the murder was ordered to prevent Bailey from publishing a story about the bakery’s troubled finances. Bailey was the first American journalist killed on U.S. soil because of his work since 1992.

Your Black Muslim Bakery was founded by Bey’s father nearly 40 years ago. It promoted black self-empowerment and became an integral part of Oakland’s black community. Affiliated organizations included a security service, a school and other businesses. But the organization was tainted by accusations of racism, fueled in large part by the elder Bey’s weekly sermons. Broadcast on the first black-owned local cable television channel, the elder Bey regularly engaged in racist attacks against whites.

Bey also often tried to intimidate local white officials by accusing them of racism. Retired council member Dick Spees, who is white, told the Oakland Tribune in 2007 that he remembered how heated meetings with Bey and his followers were. They would accuse him of racism when he questioned their business plans or asked about such things as a missing business license. Spees told the Tribune that bakery members would line up along the wall and refuse to sit during their meetings.

Jurors heard testimony about a litany of crimes involving bakery members, including shootings, kidnappings, torture, and vandalism of liquor stores to halt the sale of alcohol.  They also heard about a sexual-assault case against the elder Bey that Bailey had covered.

A second defendant, former bakery associate Antoine Mackey, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Bailey and Michael Wills. Mackey reportedly killed Wills randomly after Mackey and Bey had a conversation about the Zebra murders, a string of racially motivated black-on-white killings that took place in San Francisco in the 1970s. Wills was white.

In addition, Mackey was the getaway driver for Devaughndre Broussard, who confessed to killing Bailey with three shotgun blasts, including a final one to the head. The jury split on a third count involving Mackey’s role in the slaying of Odell Roberson Jr. Judge Thomas Reardon declared a mistrial on that charge.

Broussard cut a plea deal for 25 years in prison in exchange for serving as the prosecution’s main witness. Both Bey and Mackey face life in prison without the possibility of parole because they were convicted of the special circumstance of multiple murder. They are scheduled to be sentenced on July 8.