The Sinister Side of Yusuf Bey's Empire 

The troublesome history of Oakland's most prominent Black Muslims -- and the political establishment that protects them.

Page 8 of 10

While women may chafe under such iron-fisted patriarchy, Yusuf Bey's vision suggests that the children will turn out to be upstanding citizens possessed of a nobility and generosity of spirit. He promises his followers that his stern example will produce honorable men far removed from ghetto staples such as broken homes, absent fathers, or drug dealing. Bey presents himself as an exemplar of such values. But the sad case of his son Akbar calls his entire philosophy into question.

Akbar Bey shared with rap star Tupac Shakur a strange cocktail of political consciousness and alleged criminality. You could literally read it on his body, which was festooned with tattoos depicting crossed machine guns and the phrases "gangsta," "night stalker," "grim reaper," and "break yoself," according to police reports. Oakland police lieutenant Mike Yoell, who patrols the North Oakland beat, says Akbar Bey was "a little street thug" who once cruised past the downtown police station glaring at the cops, armed to the teeth, and clad in a bullet-proof vest.

Although Bey ran afoul of the law as a juvenile, his first adult confrontation with the police occurred on the afternoon of June 1, 1994. According to a police report, officers George Phillips and J. Smith were patrolling the West Oakland area near Market Street when they saw Bey's green Chevy Nova run a stoplight. Phillips pulled a U-turn and began to follow the car, but Bey floored it down the road. At 44th Street and Market, the car hit a grade and flew through the air. "The passengers were thrown violently into the passenger door, then pitched back toward the middle of the forward compartment," Phillips wrote. "Northbound and southbound traffic was forced to activate brakes to avoid collision."

The car sped on, fishtailing through another intersection and racing south. As Phillips gave chase, Bey pitched a silver 9mm handgun out of the window. Finally, Bey stopped and was taken into custody. Inside the car, police discovered that Bey's passenger, Donald Cook, was holding a two-year-old child on his lap during the chase. The gun, it turned out, had been stolen during a burglary a year earlier.

Akbar Bey was charged with felony counts of carrying a concealed weapon and evading the police, but he wouldn't live long enough to stand trial. Exactly three months later, he was hanging out with some friends outside the old Omni nightclub near the corner of Shattuck Avenue and 50th Street. Among the men in the crowd was Lavelle Stewart, a local drug dealer. Everyone was having a good time drinking and sampling Stewart's weed until the dealer got ready to leave. Then things turned ugly.

According to court records, Stewart looked in his car and noticed that someone had stolen $1,200 worth of drugs. Turning on the crowd, he said he shouted, "One of you motherfuckers know what happened to my weed. We've been out here enjoying ourselves all day, and my shit didn't just come up missing like this." As Bey and his friends began arguing, Stewart said, "It's like this," pulled a .357 "bulldog" Magnum from his waistband, and shot Bey four times. Two bullets smashed his jaw and passed through his brain, and two rounds hit him in the chest. Stewart was sentenced to sixty years in prison. According to court records, the pathologist concluded that Akbar Bey was high on heroin or morphine at the time of his death.

"If I say that the original people inherited power from the creator, can you see that the original people being the only people on the earth, so therefore the earth was made for the black people?"

-- Yusuf Bey, True Solutions, 1999

Life under the watchful eye of the Bey family can't be easy. For the residents of the apartment complex at 530 24th Street, the standoff with the cops must have been truly terrifying, especially since they knew the Bey family -- and Basheer Muhammad, the apartment manager -- would be back the very next day.

According to court records, tenant Allen Tucker got a taste of what it was like to cross swords with Muhammad. On March 23, 1997, Tucker's six-year-old daughter complained that Muhammad's twelve-year-old son had kicked her. Angered, Tucker strode out to the parking lot and scolded the boy: Don't be kicking my little girl, he said, 'cause she's just six, and you could seriously hurt her. Muhammad's wife heard Tucker and poked her head out of her second-story window. "The mother told me not to be talking to her son in the manner I was," Tucker later told the police. "I told the boy's mother to send the boy's father over to me, so I can talk to him."

An hour later, Muhammad arrived at Tucker's door -- but he wasn't alone. Four men stood behind him, dressed in suits. Muhammad kicked the door, and Tucker opened it and began to argue. The air was thick with tension. "I could tell that something was going to happen," a witness named Curran Warren later told the police.

Tucker said he was sick and tired of Muhammad's kids hitting on his little girl, and Muhammad took off his jacket, fists at the ready. "I asked him if he was going to fight me," Tucker told the police. "Basheer told me to swing first. I told him that I'm not going to fight, so I turned my back on him. That's when all of them jumped me."


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