Oakland Editor's Murder Spotlights Impact Of Local Weeklies

LAST THURSDAY, CHAUNCEY BAILEY, EDITOR of the Oakland Post, a free weekly newspaper catering to the Bay Area’s African-American community, was murdered. Although the investigation has only begun, and no charges were filed at press time on Friday, his killing may belong to a homicide category generally alien to Americans: the murder of journalists to silence their reporting.

Bailey, 58, was shot multiple times in the head and back at 7:30 a.m. near his office, according to news reports from the scene. The Oakland Tribune quoted a police spokesman as saying it was probably a contract killing, given “the witness statements, the shooter’s mannerisms and how the crime was committed.”

Less than 24 hours later, about 200 Oakland police staged a pre-dawn raid on a local business, Your Black Muslim Bakery, and several nearby houses. They detained and questioned about 20 individuals as they sought suspects and evidence in “killings, shootings, robberies and a kidnapping.”

Although the police said there was no evidence linking any of these people to Bailey’s murder, a colleague at the Post, Joseph Debro, told the Tribune that Bailey had been working on a story about a bankruptcy filing by the bakery when he was killed. Adding to the general air of menace, assistant police chief Howard Jordan remarked that several men sought in the raid are “very violent individuals who need to be in custody.”