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"I did this interview with Yusuf Bey IV because I think that it is important for the black community to hear his voice through the barrage of malicious articles that the mainstream media has been putting out about him and his codefendants," Valrey wrote in the introduction to a Bay View transcription of his KPFA interview. "I'm not a judge or a jury but, as a journalist, I'm definitely not going to let the racist media bury someone that I have access to, without allowing him to say what he has to say. The mainstream media is not used to our community saying that we are going to make our minds up on what we believe independent of their white power media infrastructures."
In a recent interview with the East Bay Express, Valrey went further still. He appeared to endorse the very acts of vandalism that Bey and the other bakery members were suspected of committing.
"I thought that Yusuf Bey and the Black Muslim Bakery took a stand that local politicians haven't taken in decades, that being that the black community is drowning in liquor stores," Valrey said. "In a lot of places we don't have supermarkets but we have liquor stores on every corner, and it's an issue that has been talked about for decades and nobody dealt with it. They've never said anything to me as if they done it or didn't do it, but whoever did it, I support the fact that they did what local politicians couldn't do and they brought the issue front and center. To this day, nothing has been done to limit the amount of liquor stores in the black community, which we basically equate in the black community to biological warfare. If they were involved with that, I applaud."
And Valrey's relationship with Bey would eventually extend beyond his tacit support for acts of vandalism. It would eventually result in Valrey being implicated along with Bey in one of Oakland's highest-profile murder cases.
The crime that forever changed the public's perception of the bakery was the August 2, 2007, murder of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey. Bailey was gunned down in front of witnesses who saw a black man shoot him with a shotgun before escaping in a white van. Since Bailey had been working on a story about the bakery, that institution was immediately suspected. Because of an unrelated investigation, the bakery's compound was soon raided, and several members were taken into custody, including Bey and employee Devaughndre Broussard. The latter confessed to Bailey's murder but later recanted, saying Bey had ordered him to confess. News coverage of the crime eventually called attention to a suspicious connection between the suspected mastermind and JR Valrey.
An October 25, 2008, story by the Chauncey Bailey Project — a team of reporters and news outlets created to investigate Bailey's murder — accused Oakland Police Detective Derwin Longmire of ignoring crucial evidence connecting Bey to the crime. Cell phone records and surveillance information available to Longmire evidently placed Bey outside Bailey's home just hours before his murder. During the fourteen minutes that Bey sat parked outside of Bailey's house in the early hours of August 2, he made a number of phone calls, mostly to bakery member Antoine Mackey. But the records show he also made calls to Valrey.
"During the fourteen minutes he was outside Bailey's apartment early Aug. 2, Bey IV received two calls from a person who had known Bailey for more than a decade," the article states, "JR Valrey, a blogger and activist then reporting for the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, where Bailey sometimes contributed news items. Valrey is also affiliated with New America Media, a sponsor of the Chauncey Bailey Project.
"The records show that Bey IV called Valrey twice on Aug. 1, and that Valrey called Bey IV twice while Bey IV was parked outside Bailey's apartment on Aug. 2. The two calls totaled 2 minutes and 18 seconds. Six minutes after leaving Bailey's apartment, Bey IV called Valrey at 12:43 a.m. That call lasted nearly three minutes, the records show.
"Valrey refused to discuss the calls with the Bailey Project. '(It's) none of your business,' he said, and refused to answer other questions. 'I don't have nothing to say to you, man,' he said. 'You all are the anti-bakery project.'"
The article stated that police never interviewed Valrey regarding these conversations. But Valrey did subsequently address the accusations in the San Francisco Bay View.
"Last Sunday," he wrote, "the Oakland Tribune released an article from the Chauncey Bailey Project called 'Evidence Ignored,' which passed off misleading information as facts and omitted relevant information in apparent attempts at character assassination." Valrey proceeded to accuse the stories of containing errors and outright lies, "which have made many people outside of the self-congratulating walls of the journalism industry question its credibility, professionalism and sincerity." Valrey said he refused to answer the reporters' questions because he didn't believe they were working in his best interests, nor in those of the black community or Chauncey Bailey.
"Ever since its inception, it was never about honoring and continuing the work of the late journalist Chauncey Wendell Bailey Jr. and answering questions regarding his death, as it claims on its web site," Valrey wrote in a Bay View article. "The Project and the Oakland police seem to have more of a lynch mob mentality in their investigation. They seem to be trying to ensure that their reporting will result in some young black male or a group of them paying for the murder of Chauncey, even if they are innocent."