Chauncey Bailey’s Story on Alternet

A few excerpts from Paul Harris’ detailed piece which ran this week on Alternet

One of black America’s most successful journalists had been murdered in broad daylight. The crime sent shock waves through Oakland that rippled into the rest of the country. Then came the real surprise: it emerged that Bailey had been investigating a local group of radical black Muslims, digging into their finances and reputation for violence….

Chauncey also made his journalism deeply personal. He mentored black kids in the profession, visiting local schools. And when he wrote up a story he would often take its characters under his wing. Chakay McDonald knew all about that. She met Bailey through a friend and he became intrigued by her plans to start a restaurant chain. “There weren’t very many African-American women of my age trying to start businesses. He wanted to support me,” McDonald says. Bailey wrote several business pieces about her. Then, after her first store opened, he became a regular customer. Now McDonald has just opened her fourth outlet. “He really helped me when it was tough,” she says. “He told me he believed in this community. He never gave up trying to make a difference. Regardless of the crime and the ways these kids here grow up.”

Indeed, Bailey’s death created just the sort of headlines Oakland has been recently avoiding. Its crime rate is still shocking — with a population of just 400,000 it had more than 80 murders by the end of this summer, and 145 in total last year — but these deaths are localised in the shrinking ghettos. The fact is, Oakland is changing fast. Artists, lawyers and young families — mostly white or Asian — have been priced out of San Francisco and have moved across the bay. New apartment buildings are sprouting up. Oakland sees itself as a city on the up. The killing of Chauncey Bailey needed to be solved, fast. And so it was.

Or was it?

Check out the rest of this story on Alternet.  It raises some very real questions about what is required to end criminality in poor communities across this nation.

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