Chauncey Bailey Project

Commentary: CBP addresses conflict with San Francisco Chronicle; details reporting on controversial video

COMMENTARY: The Chauncey Bailey Project

OAKLAND-On the morning of August 2, 2007, Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey was gunned down as he walked to his office.  Concerned that his death might have been the result of his work as a reporter, journalists, media organizations, universities, foundations and other allies formed the Chauncey Bailey Project to investigate his murder. Our goal has always been to determine who killed him and why.
 
The competition to cover this story has been intense between the news organizations working with the Chauncey Bailey Project and others, such as the San Francisco Chronicle. We have consistently stated that competition is good for the communities served by these media.  However, we believe the level of discord between the Project and the Chronicle has at times been counter productive.

It is time to clear the air and re-focus the energy, resources and attention of Bay Area media on the main objective: ensuring that justice is carried out.
 
The San Francisco Chronicle has objected, both locally and nationally, to certain inadvertent characterizations of the Chauncey Bailey Project’s work. Specifically, the Chronicle disputes any purported or implied claims that the Project was the first to uncover a secret police videotape vital to the murder investigation.
 
The Chronicle reported on November 11, 2007, that a police video showed evidence of a close relationship between former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and Police Sgt. Derwin Longmire, the lead investigator on the Bailey murder case. The Chronicle story stated that the video recording “was reviewed by the Chronicle.”  Subsequently, the Chauncey Bailey Project obtained a copy of the video, sent it to sound technicians to enhance the audio, and then disclosed information contained on the video that went unreported in the Chronicle’s earlier story.
 
The Chauncey Bailey Project made the enhanced video available to the public on web sites and television. The following were the facts revealed for the first time by the Project:
 
        — Bakery leader Yusef Bey IV hid the shotgun suspected of killing Bailey in his bedroom closet after the killing.
 
        — Bey IV and bakery employees Devaughndre Broussard and Antoine Mackey drove to the shooting scene less than an hour after Bailey was killed.       
 
        — Bey IV mockingly described the three shotgun blasts fired at Bailey, saying, “Pow, pow, poof” … and laughed about the killing
       
        — Bey IV laughingly derided county investigators grilling him about a tracking device, boasting about how he “played hella dumb with this s**t.”  

       — Bey IV sarcastically described how he responded to those same investigators, who suggested Bailey was killed on his order, by saying, “Order? Order what? We ordered some sandwiches and s**t.”
 
        — Bey IV identified the car the killers used to drive to the shooting as belonging to another bakery member.

These details, along with other facts about the police investigation into Bailey’s death uncovered over the last 20 months, led to a dramatic turn in the case.  State and federal law enforcement agencies unraveled a conspiracy surrounding Bailey’s murder. Oakland city officials, residents and law enforcement officers acknowledge that the case would not have made as much progress without the Project’s work.
 
The Project’s stories have been published in area newspapers as well as distributed over radio, television and the Internet. Unfortunately, some media outlets, third party organizations, and perhaps even individual organizations of our nearly three dozen members have mistakenly reported that the Chauncey Bailey Project was the first to uncover the existence of the crucial video.
 
To be clear, we revealed for the first time, extensive, previously undisclosed content on the video tying Yusef Bey IV to Chauncey Bailey’s murder.
 
It was never the intent of the Chauncey Bailey Project to minimize or distort the San Francisco Chronicle’s coverage of the videotape. At the same time, however, it’s also understandable how this mistake was made.
 
What concerns us most is that some at the Chronicle accused the Chauncey Bailey Project of knowingly undermining their work. We hope that the reporters and editors at the Chronicle fully understand it was not the intent of anyone associated with the Project to misrepresent our efforts. Our work speaks for itself, as does the Chronicle’s.
 
The Chauncey Bailey Project hopes that by publicly clearing the air on this issue, we can put an end to the distractions. The Bay Area deserves responsible media that can aggressively pursue stories that will engage its residents and their communities. Clearly, the work by the Chronicle and the Chauncey Bailey Project have made a difference. The community needs us to continue our stellar journalism.

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