An Oakland bakery with a cheery red sign out front—“Your Black Muslim Bakery”—was thrust into the criminal spotlight again Tuesday when police arrested one of founder Yusuf Bey’s sons in connection with vandalism to two liquor stores.
Bey created the bakery in 1968 and built a powerful enterprise based on baked goods, Muslim faith, local politics and, police say, strong-arm tactics.
For decades, members of Bey’s religious sect have been suspected of using violence and intimidation to secure their business interests, which include four bakeries, a Muslim school, a security business and an apartment building across from the main bakery on San Pablo Avenue in northwest Oakland where many of Bey’s relatives and bakery workers live.
Bey died of colon cancer in October 2003 while awaiting trial on charges of raping a minor. A year earlier he had been charged with 27 counts in the alleged rapes of four girls under the age of 14. Prosecutors said they had DNA evidence to prove that Bey fathered five children with his victims, two of whom gave birth when they were 13. His followers have claimed he fathered more than 40 children.
In 1994, members of the organization allegedly beat an Oakland man with a police officer’s heavy-duty flashlight and threatened to kill the white police officers who came to investigate.
Bey was not afraid to espouse unpopular opinions. In the 1990s, he criticized Alameda County social workers for placing too many black children with white foster parents who live outside Oakland and vowed to recruit black parents to take troubled children.