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One year after journalist Chauncey Bailey's murder, impunity prevails; RSF launches petition calling for justice

(RSF/IFEX) - On 1 August 2008, the eve of the first anniversary of journalist Chauncey Bailey's murder, RSF is very disappointed that the investigation has not made any progress. Instead, the case has become more complicated as new information surrounding the motives for Bailey's murder has come to light. Evidence, some recorded by the police and some uncovered by investigative reporters, points at someone other than the currently accused defendant as a potential perpetrator(s) and/or mastermind(s) of the crime, and suggests that local police officials may be protecting those responsible for Bailey's death. RSF also disapproves of Oakland Police Chief Tucker and Deputy Chief Howard A. Jordan's unwillingness to talk to the media.

The press freedom organisation is launching a petition calling for "Justice for Chauncey Bailey" and urging the Attorney General to take the lead in the case ( ).

"All those responsible for the murder, the perpetrator(s), the mastermind(s) and those protecting them, must be brought to justice," states RSF in the petition. "This important case must be taken away from the local officials and brought to the federal level in order to avoid further bias, pressure and conflicts of interests, and to allow a thorough and impartial investigation."

"Chauncey Bailey was killed because of his work as a journalist," added the organisation. "Murders of reporters are rare in the United States. In informing people and denouncing public wrongdoings, the news media play an important role in the checks and balances that are essential to any democracy. The justice system has to send a strong signal to those who would silence the media, and show them that impunity will not prevail. We call upon press freedom supporters to sign the petition to show public support for a swift resolution of the murder."

On 2 August 2007, Bailey, the late editor for the "Oakland Post", was walking to work when he was gunned down by a masked man in downtown Oakland.

The day after, the police department raided the facility of "Your Black Muslim Bakery", suspecting some of its employees were involved in the killing as well as other unrelated felonies. A group of young men who worked at the bakery and were adopted by Yusuf Bey, the founder of the bakery, were already well-known because of their involvement in previous crimes, ranging from vandalism to kidnapping. The leader of this particular group of young men was Yusuf Bey IV, of the Bey family.

Bey IV and others were apprehended on the night of 3 August. Devaughndre Broussard, the youngest and newest member of the bakery staff, confessed to killing Bailey, after an unrecorded conversation with Bey IV held at the police station without the presence of an officer. Broussard later recanted and his lawyer, LeRue Grim, stated his client's confession was coerced.

As of 1 August 2008, Broussard was scheduled to begin his trial on 19 September at 9:00 a.m. (local time). No one else has been charged, even as an indirect participant.

Bailey's murder was prompted by his work as a reporter, specifically, by his story regarding the bakery's finances and their possible link to police corruption. The story was never published because certain information could not be verified. "Oakland Post"'s publisher, Paul Cobb, received police protection earlier in 2008 after being told that a contract had been put out for his murder.

There has been growing evidence that the leading investigator, Stg. Derwin Longmire, has been protecting Bey IV. Saleem Bey, Bailey's secret source about the bakery's finances, spoke about Oakland's Police Department's reputation for corruption. Recently, a video recorded by a hidden camera at the police department showed Bey IV describing in detail how Bailey was killed but denying ever being at the murder scene. Bey IV also talked about Sgt. Longmire's intention to protect him and the bakery. After the video's release, Bey IV said he knew the police were recording him and that he made false statements to mislead them.

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff stated recently that he will not pursue an investigation about Bey IV's possible involvement in the Bailey murder, because he already faces life in prison for other crimes. Orloff later retracted these comments by saying that pursuing an investigation on Bey IV's unrelated crimes would buy time to develop a case regarding his connection to Bailey's murder, and that such information might come out during Broussard's trial.

Updates the Bailey case:

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