What's Going On? Black-on-Black Homicide Hits Home
by Kam Williams
"Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying Brother, brother,
brother, there's far too many of you dying You know we've got to find a
way, to bring some lovin' here today Hey, what's going on?"
—What's Going On by Marvin Gaye
Journalist Chauncey Bailey
(1949 - August 2, 2007)
I last spoke to Chauncey Bailey just a couple of days before he was assassinated on the streets of downtown Oakland on the morning of August 2nd. He was murdered in broad daylight on his way to his office by a thug in a ski mask who pumped three rounds from a shotgun directly into his chest before jumping into a waiting getaway van.
I wish that I could say that Chauncey and I had shared some deeply meaningful exchange during that last chat, but it merely addressed a mundane concern of mine in my capacity as a syndicated contributor to the Oakland Post. In fact, since he took the job as the paper's editor-in-chief this past June, all of our conversations had been brief and of a professional nature.
Still, I was very impressed with his work ethic and publishing acumen, and was quite confident that the Post would be in good hands during his tenure.
Now, upon his passing, I have come to have my suspicions about the man confirmed by all the glowing tributes and testimonials about him by those who knew him well, both as a dedicated journalist and as a loving father.
The police already have a suspect in custody, Devaughndre Broussard, a 19 year-old ex-con who has reportedly confessed that he committed the crime in response to Bailey's having written an unfavorable review of the Black Muslim Bakery where he was employed as a handyman. Quite frankly, this tragedy wouldn't have registered more than a blip on the radar, if it weren't for the victim's esteemed status in the African-American community.
For seven more black folks were shot dead in the City of Oakland in the 48 hours immediately following the slaying of Bailey. Among those being treated like statistics was Byron Mitchell, 29, who was fatally wounded while being robbed. Jacqueline Venable, 40, was gunned down while eating cake at friend's house. Khatari Gant, 25, perished after his car was peppered with bullets from an assault rifle. His brother and an acquaintance were also shot, but survived. Kevin Sharp, 20, was home watching TV when he answered a knock at the door only to have his head blown off. And three others.
Meanwhile, here in New Jersey, the hip-hop Holocaust exacted an
equally-shocking toll in Newark last Saturday night, when three Delaware
State University college students, Terrance Aerial, 18, Iofemi
Hightower, 20, and Dashon Harvey, 20, none of whom had any police
records, were lined up against a wall, forced to their knees, robbed and
executed by bullets to the brain by a gang of gangstas. A fourth
student, Natasha Aerial, 19, miraculously survived somehow, and is in
stable condition in the hospital.
This skyrocketing black-on-black homicide rate is a shame which suggests that African-Americans' sense of self-worth has plunged to an all-time low.
And now that it has hit home, it makes me wanna holler "What's going
Lloyd Kam Williams is an attorney and a member of the bar in NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.
YouTube Video - Chauncey Bailey on The Black Press Publishers
Killing the Messenger: A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash, and
the Assassination of a Journalist
Click to order via Amazon
by Thomas Peele
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Crown (February 7, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
Read an AALBC.com Book Review
When a nineteen-year-old member of a Black Muslim cult assassinated Oakland newspaper editor Chauncey Bailey in 2007—the most shocking killing of a journalist in the United States in thirty years—the question was, Why? “I just wanted to be a good soldier, a strong soldier,” the killer told police. A strong soldier for whom?
Killing the Messenger is a searing work of narrative nonfiction that explores one of the most blatant attacks on the First Amendment and free speech in American history and the small Black Muslim cult that carried it out. Award-winning investigative reporter Thomas Peele examines the Black Muslim movement from its founding in the early twentieth century by a con man who claimed to be God, to the height of power of the movement’s leading figure, Elijah Muhammad, to how the great-grandson of Texas slaves reinvented himself as a Muslim leader in Oakland and built the violent cult that the young gunman eventually joined. Peele delves into how charlatans exploited poor African Americans with tales from a religion they falsely claimed was Islam and the years of bloodshed that followed, from a human sacrifice in Detroit to police shootings of unarmed Muslims to the horrible backlash of racism known as the “zebra murders,” and finally to the brazen killing of Chauncey Bailey to stop him from publishing a newspaper story.
Peele establishes direct lines between the violent Black Muslim organization run by Yusuf Bey in Oakland and the evangelicalism of the early prophets and messengers of the Nation of Islam. Exposing the roots of the faith, Peele examines its forerunner, the Moorish Science Temple of America, which in the 1920s and ’30s preached to migrants from the South living in Chicago and Detroit ghettos that blacks were the world’s master race, tricked into slavery by white devils. In spite of the fantastical claims and hatred at its core, the Nation of Islam was able to build a following by appealing to the lack of identity common in slave descendants.
In Oakland, Yusuf Bey built a cult through a business called Your Black Muslim Bakery, beating and raping dozens of women he claimed were his wives and fathering more than forty children. Yet, Bey remained a prominent fixture in the community, and police looked the other way as his violent soldiers ruled the streets.
An enthralling narrative that combines a rich historical account with gritty urban reporting, Killing the Messenger is a mesmerizing story of how swindlers and con men abused the tragedy of racism and created a radical religion of bloodshed and fear that culminated in a journalist’s murder.
THOMAS PEELE is a digital investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group and the Chauncey Bailey Project. He is also a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. His many honors include the Investigative Reporters and Editors Tom Renner Award for his reporting on organized crime, and the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage. He lives in Northern California.