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

According to court records, Stewart looked in his car and noticed that someone had stolen $1,200 worth of drugs. Turning on the crowd, he said he shouted, "One of you motherfuckers know what happened to my weed. We've been out here enjoying ourselves all day, and my shit didn't just come up missing like this." As Bey and his friends began arguing, Stewart said, "It's like this," pulled a .357 "bulldog" Magnum from his waistband, and shot Bey four times. Two bullets smashed his jaw and passed through his brain, and two rounds hit him in the chest. Stewart was sentenced to sixty years in prison. According to court records, the pathologist concluded that Akbar Bey was high on heroin or morphine at the time of his death.

"If I say that the original people inherited power from the creator, can you see that the original people being the only people on the earth, so therefore the earth was made for the black people?"


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, 1999

Life under the watchful eye of the Bey family can't be easy. For the residents of the apartment complex at 530 24th Street, the standoff with the cops must have been truly terrifying, especially since they knew the Bey family -- and Basheer Muhammad, the apartment manager -- would be back the very next day.

According to court records, tenant Allen Tucker got a taste of what it was like to cross swords with Muhammad. On March 23, 1997, Tucker's six-year-old daughter complained that Muhammad's twelve-year-old son had kicked her. Angered, Tucker strode out to the parking lot and scolded the boy: Don't be kicking my little girl, he said, 'cause she's just six, and you could seriously hurt her. Muhammad's wife heard Tucker and poked her head out of her second-story window. "The mother told me not to be talking to her son in the manner I was," Tucker later told the police. "I told the boy's mother to send the boy's father over to me, so I can talk to him."

An hour later, Muhammad arrived at Tucker's door -- but he wasn't alone. Four men stood behind him, dressed in suits. Muhammad kicked the door, and Tucker opened it and began to argue. The air was thick with tension. "I could tell that something was going to happen," a witness named Curran Warren later told the police.

Tucker said he was sick and tired of Muhammad's kids hitting on his little girl, and Muhammad took off his jacket, fists at the ready. "I asked him if he was going to fight me," Tucker told the police. "Basheer told me to swing first. I told him that I'm not going to fight, so I turned my back on him. That's when all of them jumped me."

According to witness statements, one of the men grabbed Tucker in a choke hold, and the rest started beating him. They punched and kicked him till he fell to the floor, then stomped on his prone body. "Basheer then swung and hit Allen in the face," nearby tenant Charles Caldwell said in a police statement. "Allen was covering himself, and the others grabbed him and began hitting and kicking him. They then rammed him into the wall. They then pushed him into his house and began beating him inside the house. Allen began bleeding from the face and was out. They picked him up and continued hitting him in the face. Basheer then said, 'That's enough, all.'"

According to Tucker's cousin Yussabbih Tucker, all four men continued stomping on Tucker even after he passed out, and blood was trickling from his mouth. Yussabbih Tucker ran back to her apartment and called 911, then raced back to the parking lot to keep the men from leaving. Just as they were turning on her, the police arrived.

Tucker was left with swelling bruises around both temples, a gash in his lip, and a three-inch laceration on his leg. All four men were arrested, but the charges were ultimately dismissed.

"My apologies are to God Allah. If he can forgive me, I'm going back to work for my community."

-- Yusuf Bey at Castlemont High, September 21, 2002

You might say the Bey family has been busy during the last nine years. But you wouldn't know it from the coverage they've received in the local press, including this newspaper. Virtually none of these arrests, confrontations, and allegations received the scrutiny they deserved, and Yusuf Bey and his followers have been able to continue presenting themselves as role models for impoverished, fatherless children. In some quarters of the city, they've accumulated a populist moral currency that politicians and social workers could never hope to equal. They are, in a word, righteous.

June may have marked the beginning of Yusuf Bey's downfall. A woman out of Bey's distant past contacted the Oakland police and claimed that he impregnated her in 1982, when she was just thirteen years old. After a brief investigation, the OPD Special Victims Unit served Bey with a search warrant for a tissue sample, which he provided. He refused to speak to the police about the investigation, but officer Jim Saleda claims DNA tests confirm that Bey is the father. Bey turned himself in on September 19 after police issued a warrant for his arrest.

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