The Killing of a Journalist

Voice staff writer Chris Thompson not only knew the Oakland reporter shot dead by a follower of the Yusuf Bey family, he'd also incurred the family's wrath

All was still for a moment, as Nedir Bey and his colleagues conferred in the back of the room. According to Onipede's story, Bey returned and announced that they were all leaving now. Onipede would show them where his money was. Abaz Bey walked in allegedly carrying a Calico assault rifle. Grabbing the keys, he left and pulled Onipede's car into the courtyard. Abaz and Nedir Bey and four other men led Onipede down the stairs and forced him into the trunk. As Basheer Muhammad left to take care of another bit of muscle work, Abaz and Nedir Bey got in and drove the car to the security gate leading to the street, where they stopped and killed the engine. Pulling Onipede out, they proceeded to search the car.

It was then that Onipede saw the cop. "I saw two police cars with their lights, you know, on in the front on the adjacent side of the road," he testified. Onipede broke and ran.

"These young men are soldiers. You cannot fool these young men today. They were born with knowledge."


Chris Thompson's Other Stories on the Yusuf Bey Family

How Official Oakland Kept the Bey Empire Going
The troublesome history of Oakland's most prominent Black Muslims ó and the political establishment that protects them.
Published: November 20, 2002

Blood & Money: Endgame
Even in his death, Yusuf Bey is lionized as an elder statesman rather than branded as a thug. Meanwhile, his victims reflect.
Published: October 8, 2003

-- Yusuf Bey, True Solutions, October 2002

Officer Hugh Kidd and Sergeant Ward were responding to a routine disturbance, and had just gotten out of their car when they reportedly heard a man shout, "Let me out!" According to Kidd's police report, Onipede told him that Nedir and Abaz Bey, along with six or seven other men, had burned his hand with a knife and held guns to his head several times and threatened to shoot him.

Kidd called for backup, and police began their investigation. According to a police source, Sergeant Mark Neely oversaw the initial work, securing the scene and searching the apartment. He found a large black flashlight and a butter knife, scorched and blackened. Officers Steve Shaquette and Jason England were posted at the entrance, with orders not to let anyone in. At that moment, a cell phone belonging to one of Nedir Bey's men went off.

About fifteen blocks west of the incident, at 2939 Union Street, a mob of thirty Black Muslims was allegedly armed with handguns and ready for trouble. They were there, according to a police report, to exact some justice on another man -- one they claimed had stripped the tires from one of their cars. When the cops arrived, they found all thirty standing in formation. Their leader was Basheer Muhammad.

Officer Dave Cronin was attempting to convince them to leave peacefully when Black Muslim Ahmed Hamir allegedly made a cell phone call to the apartment complex on 24th Street. "I stood next to him as he spoke about having forced the police department into a compromise," Cronin wrote in his police report. "He then asked the other party what was happening on 24th Street. He almost immediately hung up the phone, went to Muhammad Basheers [sic] and said, 'The police are making an assault on 24th Street.' Basheers gave the military-type orders for his group to fall out and get into their vehicles. ... I then advised Sergeant Neely that I felt the group was on their way to his location."

Officer Shaquette was standing post at apartment 207 when he saw the Black Muslims roll up. "I observed eight to ten of these subjects head up the north staircase, up to the second floor," he wrote in his report. "I advised them that they could not enter the walkway or apt. #207 because I was protecting a crime scene. The subjects appeared volatile and told me that I could not stop them. I withdrew my long baton and held it in a nonthreatening, low-ready position. One subject shouted at me, 'This ain't no Rodney King.'"

All hell broke loose at that point, according to a police source and incident reports. The Black Muslims tried to force their way into the apartment, and fists started swinging. Shaquette, England, and Neely used their clubs to strike left and right as the Muslims hammered them with punches. Backup arrived just in time, and the Muslims scrambled down to the courtyard, where they threw off their coats and put up their fists. Ninety cops squared off against thirty Black Muslims, some of whom had guns.

"Mr. Basheers was standing near his followers," Cronin wrote. "He was yelling about how he and his followers would start the 'war' tonight. 'Right here and right now.' He made threats, saying that tonight would be the 'start,' and that 'white police officers would die tonight.' He challenged the officers to attack his group, saying he and his people 'would be willing to die right now.' That his death would be 'an acceptable sacrifice it if meant the death and downfall of the white race.'"

Fortunately, officer Marc Andaya had what one police source called "a silver tongue that night." Andaya spent almost an hour calming Muhammad down, and in the end, he and his followers agreed to leave the scene and let the cops conduct their business. After mounting an organized assault on the Oakland police, thirty men walked away free.

"What is the responsibility of a man? A man's job is to provide, maintain, and protect your woman and your children. So you gotta learn a trade, you gotta learn to work. Because you're gonna always have to work to take care of that family."

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