An Alameda (Calif.) Circuit Court jury June 9 convicted two men of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Oakland Black journalist Chauncey Bailey, as he walked to work.

Bailey, editor-in chief of the Oakland Post was working on investigative reports of questionable activities by a local community group, Your Black Muslim Bakery.

Yusuf Bey IV, 25, and Antoine Mackey, 25, are to be sentenced in the first week of July. They face sentences of mandatory life in prison, without parole, for a month–long spree of violence in Oakland that culminated in the shooting of Bailey on an Oakland street.

Devaughndre Broussard, 23, who pleaded guilty as the triggerman in the Bailey shooting, testified in the more than two-month long murder trial that Bey and Mackey ordered him to kill Bailey, who was working on a critical look at Your Black Muslim Bakery, the centerpiece of a Black community group headed by Bey.

Broussard, a cook and handyman at the bakery, testified under a plea bargain with Alameda prosecutors that he was ordered to kill Bailey. Bey was convicted of three counts of first degree murder and Antoine Mackey, 25, of two counts of first degree murder.

Before Bailey’s murder, the jury was told, Bey orchestrated the murders of Odell Roberson, Jr., in retaliation for the murder of Bey’s brother allegedly by Roberson’s nephew, and of Michael Wills, a White man that prosecutors said was chosen at random.

Bailey was hit with three shotgun blasts amid morning workday traffic on a busy street. The final shot was to his face.

Bey was convicted of all three murders. Mackey was convicted of the Wills and Bailey murders. Jurors were deadlocked over charges that Mackey assisted Broussard in the Roberson death.

Bailey became a target while he was developing an investigative look at the finances surrounding the bakery, a business created by Bey’s father 40 years ago that had grown into a community institution around a theme of self-empowerment.

Although the bakery conducted activities, including a security service and a school, and themes similar to those associated with Black Muslims, it was not connected to the Nation of Islam.

Bailey had not published the results of his look at the group. An attorney for the Post told the Oakland Tribune that Bailey had been working on the story about the “financial status of the organization” and had explored allegations of criminal activities “of a number of people who were working in the organization.”

The trial had been closely watched by First Amendment advocates, with prosecutor Melissa Krum proclaiming that the conviction sends the message that such violence against the working press will not be tolerated.

Journalists formed The Chauncey Bailey Project to advocate protection for journalists involved in investigative reporting. Robert Rosenthal of the independent investigative journalist group ProPublica, wrote “It’s a form of journalism that is costly and time-consuming. It can be risky and it is hard work. But it’s essential work that when done well protects all of us and those who really have no one else to protect their rights.” 

 

Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO