Before he was assassinated, Chauncey Bailey was enmeshed in a power struggle within Your Black Muslim Bakery. That's the conclusion of yet another terrific San Francisco Chronicle story by reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken. If you haven't read it yet, Van Derbeken's piece gives a great overview of the events that led up to Bailey's murder. It provides, for the first time, real insight into a plausible motive for why the Oakland Post editor was killed. And the story raises yet more startling questions about the judgment of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
Bailey wasn't just killed because bakery members wanted to stop him from exposing the bakery's financial problems. It may have also been because Bailey got caught between two factions inside the bakery - one led by bakery CEO Yusuf Bey IV, and the other, led by Bey IV's step-brother-in-law Saleem Bey. Saleem Bey was attempting to wrest control of the financially troubled bakery from Bey IV, and had become Bailey's prime source. When Bey IV found out that Bailey was writing a story based on information from Saleem Bey, he became livid. Bailey was murdered shortly thereafter. Bey IV is the prime suspect in the case, but he has yet to be charged. One of Bey IV's henchmen, Devaughndre Broussard, is the sole defendant in Bailey's killing. Broussard has said that Bey IV had told him to take the fall for it.
Van Derbeken's story also reveals the role Barbara Lee's office played in the dispute between Bey IV and Saleem Bey. Lee's office sided with Bey IV at least twice, thereby allowing him to win the internal battle between to the two factions, and apparently emboldening him to go after Bailey. First, Leslie Littleton, a then aide to Lee, wrote a letter on behalf of Bey IV that was hand delivered to the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the bakery's finances and Bey IV's handling of them. The letter effectively refuted Saleem Bey's allegations that Bey IV was responsible for the bakery's problems and should be replaced.
Littleton then refused to even listen to Saleem Bey's complaints about Bey IV, including what turned out to be accurate accounts of Bey IV's many alleged illegal activities. Because of Littleton, Bey IV's grip on the bakery tightened and Saleem Bey's efforts to wrest control were stymied. After the two factions' last meeting with Littleton, Bey IV came away the winner in the internal bakery war, and Saleem Bey, the loser. Two days later, Bailey was brazenly assassinated in broad daylight on a downtown Oakland street.
Since the day after the murder, the official motive in the killing was that bakery members wanted to prevent Bailey from making the bakery's deep financial problems public. But that motive has always seemed a bit week. Van Derbeken's story, however, reveals that Bey IV may have ordered Bailey's assassination to also send a message to Saleem Bey. A witness has told investigators that after Bailey's murder, Bey IV said: "That will teach'em to fuck with me." Notice that Bey IV looks to be referring not to "him," as in Bailey, but to "them," possibly meaning Bailey, Saleem Bey, and Saleem Bey's followers.
But that's not all. Incredibly, Dellums then hired Littleton to be his deputy chief of staff. Jesus. Any woman who defends a thug like Bey IV, and refuses to even listen to legitimate complaints, has no business being anywhere near public office. Sources have told the Express that Littleton was hired to actually be the de facto chief of staff to the mayor's wife, Cynthia Dellums, whom many consider Oakland's second mayor. Nice.
Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously said that Leslie Littleton told prosecutors that Bey IV was "like a son" to her. It was a different Barbara Lee aide who made that statement.