4 affiliated with Your Black Muslim Bakery to go to trial for vandalism

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OAKLAND _ Yusuf Bey IV and three other men affiliated with the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery _ charged more than two years ago with vandalizing two West Oakland liquor stores _ will be held over for trial in that case, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled Monday at the conclusion of a protracted preliminary hearing.

Bey IV, son of the late Black Muslim leader Yusuf Bey, and co-defendants Donald Cunningham, Kahlil Raheem and Dyamen Williams, face multiple counts of felony vandalism, in addition to hate crimes and false imprisonment charges in the highly publicized Nov. 23, 2005, attacks on the two stores: San Pablo Liquor at 2363 San Pablo Ave., and the New York Market at 3446 Market St.

Surveillance video from the San Pablo store entered into evidence in Monday’s hearing showed a group of men in suits and bow ties _ the trademark dress of members of Your Black Muslim Bakery _ smashing glass refrigerator doors and throwing merchandise all over the market. Store owners, who are Muslim, told investigators the men had demanded they stop selling liquor to African Americans, a practice which is against Muslim beliefs. Store owners and other witnesses later identified Bey and the three other men in photo lineups, police said.

Oakland police Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, who investigated the vandalism incidents, took the stand during Monday’s hearing. Defense attorneys for each of the men challenged Arotzarena’s witness-interview techniques, but Deputy District Attorney John Mifsud said there were no inconsistencies in the identification of the defendants.

And despite defense attorneys’ arguments against the charges of hate crimes and false imprisonment, Judge Carlos Ynostroza found there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial on all counts.

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Defense attorney Barry Morris, representing Raheem, said the defendants are not guilty of hate crimes. “The only thing hated in this case is liquor,” Morris said. “Just because a group of Muslims were upset that some people were selling liquor and those people happen to be Muslim, does that mean they hate Muslims? Of course not.”

All four defendants are scheduled to return to court Jan. 29.

Two other defendants, Tamon Halfin and James Watts, each pleaded no contest last year to one count of vandalism and were placed on five years’ probation. Prosecutors earlier dismissed charges against another defendant, Demetrius Harvey.

In two unrelated cases, Bey IV is also facing kidnapping charges related to the abduction of two women in May 2007, and charges of real estate fraud. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. The three other vandalism defendants posted bail.

In an odd twist, police investigating the Aug. 2, 2007, slaying of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey determined the shotgun used in that crime had been stolen from one of the liquor stores during the 2005 vandalism spree. Devaughndre Broussard, a former handyman for Your Black Muslim Bakery, was charged with Bailey’s murder and is awaiting trial.

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The Oakland Tribune, USA
Jan. 14, 2008
Angela Hill

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This post was last updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 7:31 AM, Central European Time (CET)