In downtown Oakland, on August 2nd, 2007, journalist Chauncey Bailey was shot to death on the street, as he walked to work. The murder was a brazen act – committed in broad daylight in front of multiple witnesses. Yet the truth about who was responsible for the death of the longtime newsman – and why he died – was almost buried by a rushed criminal justice system.
The murder and its lack of a substantial investigation sparked an unprecedented collaboration between Bay Area journalists, who scoured thousands of documents and interviewed hundreds of sources. They were putting together the pieces of how Bailey was murdered because of a story he was working on about a North Oakland business and organization called Your Black Muslim Bakery. That journalistic investigation ultimately helped put the conspirators responsible for Bailey’s death behind bars.
Thomas Peele was a reporter on what became known as The Chauncey Bailey Project. He’s written a new book called Killing the Messenger about Bailey’s murder and the history behind a Black Muslim cult that was tolerated by Oakland officials for decades. Peele sat down to talk about his work with KALW’s criminal justice editor, Rina Palta.