Slain Newsman Remembered Oakland, Calif.-based journalist Chauncey Bailey was gunned down on his way to work last week. Now police believe he was killed for investigating a local business. A longtime colleague of Bailey's remembers his life and work.
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Slain Newsman Remembered

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Slain Newsman Remembered

Slain Newsman Remembered

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From NPR News, this is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.

We're going to get to our regular Monday economic segment in just a minute.

But first, last Thursday, journalist Chauncey Bailey was walking to work in Oakland, California, when he was shot dead by a masked gunman. Bailey was a long-time reporter for the Oakland Tribune and had recently been named editor of Oakland's black weekly, The Oakland Post. On Friday, police arrested 19-year-old, Devaughndre Broussard, an employee at a local business that Bailey had apparently been investigating. Broussard has been booked on suspicion of murder.

For more on the story, we called one of Chauncey Bailey's former colleagues at the Oakland Tribune, managing editor, Martin Reynolds. The two knew each other for 10 years. Mr. Reynolds, welcome and I'm very sorry.

Mr. MARTIN REYNOLDS (Managing Editor, Oakland Tribune): Thank you.

CHIDEYA: So let's start with the news. Mr. Broussard has been formally booked on suspicion of murder, but what do we know about him?

Mr. REYNOLDS: Well, we know that he's been sort of an on-again, off-again employee at the bakery. We know that he had been - is on probation for previous robbery conviction out of San Francisco. We also know that, apparently, he had - when he was 15 years old, was involved in a mentorship program at the Haas School of Business. And he'd won $100-savings bond for some project he had been involved in. So he had showed, apparently, some promise and some sort of inclination towards the business.

CHIDEYA: Now, before we continue with his arrest, please give us some background on this bakery. I used to live in the Bay Area. I saw articles on - it wasn't just a bakery, was it? What's going on there?

Mr. REYNOLDS: Well, the Your Black Muslim Bakery Organization, it was - has a string of businesses along San Pablo Avenue, including a dry cleaners and a security firm. And it was founded by the patriarch, Yusuf Bey, in 1968 and had done, actually, quite a bit of good things, sort of a beacon in many respects for many years.

And in later years, had run into some problems, particularly Bey, himself, was being investigated and was charged with 27 counts of child molestation, involving two women - two young girls, really, 14 years old, under his care and was on trial for one of those counts when he died from cancer.

Since then, the organization has sort of spiraled out of control, really, with his younger son, some of which are biological and, I think others not, recently - one on, you know, charges of assault, some kidnappings, some other violence.

One of the most notable was the vandalizing of some liquor stores in West Oakland because the owners were selling alcohol to black folks and they were saying that was against tenants of the Muslim faith.

CHIDEYA: Let's go back to Mr. Broussard, the alleged assailant. When you think about him and his relationship to the bakery, and now, these questions of whether he acted alone, are you going to look into all that as this unfolds?

Mr. REYNOLDS: Well, yeah. We certainly are. You know, it's a little early to tell exactly how - whether this was sort of organized or he did it on his own, we don't really know yet. More will become clear in the days to come.

CHIDEYA: Let's turn to Chauncey Bailey. How would you describe him and his work?

Mr. REYNOLDS: Well, Chauncey, you know, he was a dogged journalist. He was a good guy. He was somebody who we all cared about immensely. You know, it's really upsetting because he, in many ways, sort of was synonymous with Oakland. He was out there all the time. He worked very hard. He loved his job. He loved - he had a real connection with Oakland. (Unintelligible) is from Oakland, he grew up here and lived. While he was working at Tribune, he lived in Flatlands, which, you know, have a lot of issues and going on there.

And he wanted to be there and report on that. And since he left Trib, you know, we really haven't replaced his voice and perspective. He was a funny guy. He loved the Detroit Pistons. He had a great - he has a great son and leaves him behind. And, you know, we at the paper, it's been very difficult for all of us. And despite Chauncey leaving, he - we never stopped loving Chauncey.

CHIDEYA: You mentioned that he lived in the Flatlands and Oakland has some very expensive property in the hills. The Flatlands are grittier, more urban. What did it mean for him to head up Northern California's oldest black paper and also live in a community that is experiencing some difficulties?

Mr. REYNOLDS: Well, it's actually funny that, now, the Flatlands now even have higher price real estate. It's actually quite ironic. So anywhere in Oakland is getting expensive. But for Chauncey, you know, it was a dream come true from what, you know, I'm talking with Paul Cobb, the publisher of the Post, also a good guy. And we've been talking a lot since this happened. And it meant everything to him, really. He went about the business.

To me, it was something that I think he was so amped up about, so excited, so honored. And he always carried himself, you know, he always wore a business suit because he felt that it was important that he portray and project the right image, the right - and be a role model and example for his community. And to be heading up the oldest black newspaper in the area was a big honor for him.

And ironically, you know, this fringe sect, you know, who at the Your Back Muslim Bakery, which is I want to note not connected at all to the Nation of Islam, it's a fringe group. But still the black Muslim faith in general has been about much of the same things - self-reliance, self-respect, and Chauncey embodied that. And it's very ironic to me that someone who is connected to this organization supposedly have held these same beliefs, apparently killed him.

CHIDEYA: Well, Mr. Reynolds, thank you so much.

Mr. REYNOLDS: It's my pleasure, thank you.

CHIDEYA: Martin Reynolds is managing editor at the Oakland Tribune. We've been discussing Chauncey Bailey, an Oakland-based journalist who was gunned down on his way to work last Thursday.

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