|Born||Chauncey Wendell Bailey Jr.
October 20, 1949
Oakland, California, USA
|Died||August 2, 2007
Oakland, California, USA
San Jose State University
|Notable credit(s)||The Detroit News
The Oakland Tribune
|Spouse(s)||Robin Hardin (div.)|
Chauncey Wendell Bailey Jr. (October 20, 1949 – August 2, 2007) was an American journalist, noted for his work primarily on issues of the African American community. He served as editor-in-chief of The Oakland Post in Oakland, California from June 2007 until his death. His 37-year career in journalism included lengthy periods as a reporter at The Detroit News and The Oakland Tribune. He was shot dead on a Downtown Oakland street on August 2, 2007. His death outraged fellow journalists, who joined together to create the Chauncey Bailey Project dedicated to continuing his work and uncovering the facts of his murder. In June 2011 Yusuf Bey IV, a local bakery owner, and his associate Antoine Mackey were convicted of ordering Bailey's murder. A third man, bakery handyman Devaughndre Brousard, had earlier confessed to being the triggerman. Bailey had been doing investigative reporting about Bey and his business; Bailey was the first American journalist killed for domestic reporting since 1976.
Chauncey was born in Oakland, California into a Catholic family who were members of St. Benedict's Catholic Church on 82nd Avenue. He lived in East Oakland neighborhoods for many years and attended Hayward High School in the nearby city of Hayward. Bailey earned an associate degree from Oakland's old Merritt Community College in 1968, and a Bachelors in Journalism from San Jose State University in 1972.
Bailey first wrote for The Oakland Post in 1970, and made his foray into television news that year as an on-air reporter with station KNTV in San Jose, California, where he continued through 1971. During the next three years he worked at the San Francisco Sun Reporter.
In the mid-1970s, Bailey moved to Hartford, Connecticut to work on the Hartford Courant for three years. After working for a year on the rewrite desk at United Press International in Chicago, he returned to Oakland in 1978 and wrote for the California Voice through late 1980. Bailey again moved to Chicago, where he worked as a publicist for the nonprofit Comprand Inc., and then relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1981 to work for a year as press secretary for the freshman U.S. Representative Gus Savage, D-Ill. From 1982 Bailey spent the next decade as a reporter and columnist for the Detroit News, where he covered city government and worked on special projects. In 1992 he returned to Oakland as public affairs director and newscaster on Bay Area radio with station KDIA, which was co-owned by then mayor of Oakland, Elihu Harris and then California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. During this era Bailey was seen throughout the 1990s as an interviewer and commentator on Soul Beat Television on the Oakland cable station KSBT, where he worked along with former Oakland actress Luenell. Bailey worked at the Oakland Tribune from 1993 until 2005. In the mid-1990s Bailey split from his wife.
In 2003 Bailey quit his program on Soul Beat after he failed in his attempt to buy the station. His program was canceled in 2004. In 2005 he began writing freelance travel stories for The Oakland Post. He became editor in June 2007, and then editor-in-chief of all five Post weeklies. The Post is the largest African-American weekly newspaper in northern California, published in Oakland, California by the Post News Group, and serving mainly Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and San Francisco. In late 2004 Bailey became one of the producers, co-founders and hosts for OUR-TV (Opportunities in Urban Renaissance Television) on Comcast Channel 78. Bailey had been known for his aggressive questioning of city officials. Oakland Police spokesman Ronald Holmgren said: "I know him as being a somewhat outspoken type individual, assertive in his journalistic approach when trying to get at matters at hand."
Your Black Muslim Bakery
Bailey was shot and killed while working on a story about the finances of Your Black Muslim Bakery, involving its pending bankruptcy. After the shooting, the Post publisher Paul Cobb revealed on television that, prior to Bailey's killing, Cobb had withheld from publication a story that Bailey had written earlier, saying only that it was about "things like" what happened to Bailey. He later stated that the police had asked him not to reveal anything about the matter. On August 6, 2007 a former employee of the bakery, Ali Saleem Bey, who is not a relative of the bakery's owner, but who adopted the Bey name, revealed that he was Bailey's source for the withheld story, which the Post had decided was not ready for publication. Bailey had asked Bey to give him the story.
According to Ali Bey, the bakery business had been seized from its rightful heirs in a coup through fraud and forgery, by a ruthless, younger branch of the family, beginning with Antar Bey and culminating with the current chief executive officer, Yusuf Bey IV. Ali revealed that in June 2005, John Bey, the former head of the Bey security service, was driven out of town with his family after an attempt on his life in a shooting outside his home. John had tried to expose the fraud behind the coup. In 2005, Antar Bey mortgaged the bakery property, to cover back taxes and other debt, and then defaulted, which led to threat of foreclosure. An attorney for the Post also confirmed that Bailey had been working on the story about the "financial status of the organization" and including the possibly criminal "activities of a number of people who were working in the organization".
On October 24, 2006, Your Black Muslim Bakery, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing its CEO as Yusuf Ali Bey, otherwise known as Yusuf Bey IV. With $900,000 in debts, owed mostly to the mortgage holder, the building was about to be foreclosed upon. The remaining debt, $200,000, was owed to the Internal Revenue Service. The day after Bailey's death, on August 3, 2007 U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Edward Jellen ordered the case to be converted to Chapter 7 liquidation effective August 9, 2007.
By 2007 Bailey was living in an apartment near the south end of Lake Merritt, not far from downtown Oakland. He was known to walk to work as a daily routine, and to stop for breakfast at a McDonald's restaurant at 14th Street and Jackson Street, about a half-block from where he was killed in the 200 block of 14th Street, becoming Oakland's 72nd homicide of 2007.
On the morning of August 2, 2007, Bailey set out on his usual walk to work. Unknown to him, it is alleged that Devaughndre Broussard, a 19-year-old handyman at Your Black Muslim Bakery, who was on probation for a San Francisco robbery conviction, had found out where Bailey lived. Broussard had worked at the bakery as a handyman and cook between August 2006 and March 2007, before leaving to find other work. He was rehired at the bakery early in July 2007.
Broussard grew up in San Francisco's Western Addition district. The office of the San Francisco District Attorney revealed that in January 2006, at age 18, Broussard plead guilty to an assault charge, and served a first-time offender sentence of one year in San Francisco county jail. Upon release, Broussard was also ordered to three years of supervised probation. In addition to his probation status, he was wanted on an outstanding failure-to-appear warrant for his arrest, charged with a 2006 assault with a firearm in San Francisco.
Police revealed that on the night of August 1, 2007, Broussard first went looking for Bailey at his apartment complex, having discovered Bailey's home address near the south end of Lake Merritt. Early on the next morning of August 2, 2007 Broussard looked for Bailey at his office, but Bailey had not yet arrived. Police revealed that Broussard also went looking for Bailey twice again at his apartment complex that morning. At 7:17 a.m. an AC Transit bus driver may have seen Broussard near Bailey's apartment, standing outside with the shotgun at First Avenue and International Boulevard. The driver called his dispatcher, who reported the incident to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. The driver continued on his route, and deputies responded to the location, but could not locate the man in their search.
Broussard then, in a white Ford Aerostar van, began driving around the route he thought Bailey would be taking to work. Broussard insisted that he acted alone, but police believe he had an accomplice in the van. At 7:25 a.m. Broussard spotted Bailey leaving the McDonald's restaurant where Bailey regularly stopped to eat breakfast. Broussard then got out of the van, parked on Alice Street. Wearing a mask and dark clothing, he approached Bailey with the shotgun. Police cannot confirm that a witness claims that he heard Bailey say "Please don't kill me." The witness claims he recognized Bailey, and that he was in trouble, but stopped in his tracks when he saw the shotgun. Broussard admitted to police the next night that he then ambushed and killed Bailey. Oakland Police investigators said that Broussard confessed that he killed Bailey because he was angry over the past and ongoing articles written by Bailey about the bakery and its personnel.
As he walked from home to work, Bailey was shot dead around 7:30 a.m. on 14th Street near Alice Street in Oakland's Lakeside Apartments District in what police described as an assassination. Witnesses said the single gunman wearing dark clothing and a ski mask approached Bailey and fired at least three rounds from a shotgun, hitting Bailey at least once in the chest, then fled on foot to a waiting van and drove off.
The gunman first fired a shotgun blast at Bailey's chest, then stood over him and fired again execution style at Bailey's face while Bailey was down, and then fired a coup de grâce to make sure he was dead. The assassin then escaped in the van. Bailey was pronounced dead at the scene. Police Chief Wayne Tucker described the killing as "unusual" because it occurred downtown and in broad daylight. The Mossberg shotgun used in the murder was later identified as one stolen during a liquor store vandalism 2 years prior suspected to have been committed by members of Your Black Muslim Bakery.
On the day of the killing Oakland Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland offered up to $25,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the killer.
Bailey was survived by his father, three of his four siblings, and his teenage son living in southern California. A funeral Mass was held at the East Oakland St. Benedict's Catholic Church on the morning of August 8, 2007, with an overflowing crowd of 700 in attendance, including a line of people outside for more than an hour into the service. Attendees included Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, actress Luenell, assistant dean of the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism Paul Grabowicz who once worked with Bailey at the Tribune, and well-known local attorney John Burris. Bailey was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in nearby Hayward.
Beginning early at 5 a.m. on the following morning of August 3, 2007, more than 200 Oakland Police officers and SWAT team members armed with search warrants closed off a number of blocks of San Pablo Avenue, a major thoroughfare in North Oakland. The area of focus included homes and the business properties of Your Black Muslim Bakery, which operated two business locations on either side of the street between Stanford Avenue and 59th Street. The group is a Black Muslim splinter organization founded by Yusuf Bey, and now led by his son Yusuf Bey IV. The pre-dawn raids followed a two-month investigation into a variety of violent crimes, including kidnapping and murder. Police used stun grenades and broke down doors to gain entry. In a news conference later that day, Oakland Deputy Police Chief Howard Jordan said that several weapons and other evidence of value linked the killing of Chauncey Bailey to members of the group. Police also recovered spent ammunition from the rooftops, and detained 19 people for questioning.
In addition to the bakeries, the police also raided nearby homes. In the 1000 block of 59th Street, police recovered, from a closet, the shotgun used in the killing of Bailey at the home where Broussard was also detained. The rear yard of the home connected directly to the bakery property. Police also raided a home in the 900 block of Aileen Street a few blocks east of the bakery. Of the 19 detainees on that morning, five were arrested along with Broussard, and Yusuf Bey IV, on probable cause arrest warrants, along with other outstanding arrest warrants, stemming from the prior investigations.
Broussard was booked on suspicion of murder on August 4, 2007, for the killing of Bailey, having told police detectives that he considered himself "a good soldier". Though other charges were made against those arrested, none of them were charged with Bailey's murder. On August 7, 2007 Broussard was arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court, on charges of murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
He initially confessed to killing Bailey, then recanted his confession. In a 2008 60 Minutes interview, Broussard claimed he was coerced by Yusuf Bey IV to plead guilty for the benefit of the bakery and others arrested. In an interview for CBS News, Broussard said that the Oakland Police put him and Bey IV together in a room, and that Bey IV convinced him to plead guilty for the purpose of releasing other murder suspects. He later pled guilty to manslaughter charges in exchange for a 25-year sentence and full testimony at the trial of Bey IV and others.
Broussard testified for the prosecution at the trial of Bey IV and Antoine Mackey in 2011. He stated in court he was ordered by Bey to find, track and kill Bailey before the journalist could print his latest article on the bakery. Bey IV and Mackey were both convicted of multiple counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2013 Bey's attorney, Lorna Brown, was convicted of smuggling documents out of jail for him. One of the documents turned out to be a hit list ordering an associate to kill a witness; the list and the associate were intercepted by police before he could carry out the murder. In 2015, a state appeals court upheld the convictions of Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey.
The Chauncey Bailey Project
To continue Bailey's work and answer questions regarding his death, more than two dozen reporters, photographers and editors from print, broadcast and electronic media, as well as journalism students, formed a group called the Chauncey Bailey Project. It was convened by New America Media, the Pacific News Service and the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
In June 2008, the Chauncey Bailey Project released a secretly recorded police video that reveals how Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV kept the gun used in the Chauncey Bailey killing in his closet after the attack and bragged of playing "hella dumb" when investigators asked him about the shooting. Bey goes on to describe Bailey's shooting in detail, then laughingly denies he was there, and boasts that his friendship with the case's lead detective protected him from charges. Bey also claims he knew he was being recorded.
The Chauncey Bailey Project is not without its critics. Bay Area activist, investigative journalist, and radio talk show host, J.R. Valrey (who works under the pseudonym Minister of Information JR), has accused the Chauncey Bailey Project of inaccurate and "self-congratulatory" reporting. Mr. Valery's criticisms largely stem from a 2008 Chauncey Bailey Project article published in the Oakland Tribune entitled "Evidence Ignored", of which Mr. Valery's connections to Chauncey Bailey and Your Black Muslim Bakery was one of the focuses.
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