Columns written for the Berkeley Daily Planet newspaper, Berkeley, CA
Portrait by John W. Pearson
CONTINUING QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE CHAUNCEY BAILEY MURDER
The tossing of the murder weapon by Mr. Broussard did not automatically link him directly to the murder of Chauncey Bailey, but the discovery of the weapon on a property reportedly “associated” with Your Black Muslim Bakery provided police with a link between the bakery and the murder. That immediately gave OPD investigators considerable leverage over the seven individuals arrested in the August 3rd police raids, the two people who were under warrant but eluded arrest, and anyone else associated with the bakery.
Mr. Broussard’s original confession—in which he absolved anyone else but himself of responsibility for or participation in Mr. Bailey’s murder—took other bakery members off the hook, at least for the time being. Was the Bey IV-Broussard jailhouse meeting then a “mistake” by police investigators, making them lose leverage against other bakery associates they earlier had? Or was obtaining the confession part of a police strategy to ramp up pressure on Mr. Broussard, forcing him to implicate other bakery associates, as his attorney is now doing? I don’t have any answers to those questions, but maybe that will become manifest as more things are revealed about the investigation.
Meanwhile, while we ought to listen to Mr. Broussard’s attorney, we ought to be careful about what we take for information, and what we take for spin.
Mr. Grim came into this case at a difficult time, with his client already having signed a confession, first, and then repudiating it by saying that police had beaten it out of him. Mr. Grim’s job, as a defense attorney charged with defending his client, has been to stir up as much doubt as he can about the original confession, and to try to point the finger of guilt away from Mr. Broussard. He has done a good job of it in a bad situation. But because Mr. Grim now infers that Mr. Bey IV may be “the main guy responsible for all of this” does not necessarily mean that Mr. Broussard believes that or will eventually testify to it, much less that it is actually true.
Let us boil down what we know or reasonably believe to be fact, at this point.
First, Chauncey Bailey was working on an article for the Oakland Post that was critical to certain members of Your Black Muslim Bakery, critical enough to anger them.
Second, the Bailey murder weapon was found by police on one of the premises associated with Your Black Muslim Bakery. (This a fact one can reasonably assume, since Mr. Grim has not disputed it.)
From these two sets of facts, many have concluded that one or more bakery associates killed Chauncey Bailey. Some—maybe many—have also concluded that the killings were ordered by top bakery officials.
But while those conclusions certainly could be true, the two sets of facts that we have earlier outlined don’t necessarily make those conclusions true.
While there is a likelihood that the presence of the murder weapon on bakery property means that someone associated with the bakery was responsible for Mr. Bailey’s murder, it does not leave out the possibility that the weapon was planted there after the shooting by someone not associated with the bakery, but who wanted to implicate the bakery. (I am not suggesting that this scenario is true; I am only trying to see what is proven, so far, by the facts and evidence on hand.)
In 1965, former Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X was shot and killed by three gunmen in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York. The gunmen, who were captured on the scene and identified by eyewitnesses to the shooting, were revealed to be members of the Nation of Islam. Because Malcolm X had left the Nation of Islam under difficult circumstances, and had been publicly feuding with the organization ever since, there was a widespread conclusion that Malcolm X’s murder was carried out under orders by top NOI officials.
But that, in fact, was never proven, and many of Malcolm X’s supporters now believe it not to be true.
In a note in Malcolm X’s autobiography, published after Malcolm X's death, co-author Alex Haley said that following his split with the Nation, Malcolm X had been poisoned during a trip to Europe. According to Mr. Haley, Malcolm X told him that while he (Malcolm) believed that NOI officials may have wanted him dead, he (Malcolm) did not believe the NOI had the capability of making an attack on European soil, and that there was a death plot against him from an entity with a longer reach.
From that revelation, many of Malcolm X’s supporters began to believe that Malcolm X’s assassination was ordered by some group or organization other than the NOI, which used NOI members to commit the act in order to throw suspicion on the NOI and away from the real perpetrators.