Home

WAS “YOUR BLACK MUSLIM BAKERY-HIT SQUAD,” RESPONSIBLE FOR ANOTHER MURDER?

by: Jaxon Van Derbeken @ The SF Chronicle

Yusuf Bey headed the ‘Black Muslim Bakery.’ Critics - including some former followers - say he lorded over the group through threats and force.

Women and even children in the bakery were given to Bey for his sexual pleasure, former followers have said. Allegations also persist that Bey beat the women and female children (badly) and people involved in this organization, young and old, allegedly, looked the other way.

As the revelations about Bey mounted before and after his death from cancer in 2003 - and as his would-be successors were slain or jailed in a string of violent crimes, including the killing of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey - Berkeley police decided to re-examine Ron Allen's (first photo, far left) death. Ronald Allen tried to show his minister father that the tenets of Your Black Muslim Bakery weren't that different from the precepts of the Bible.

His family would soon have cause to fear otherwise. On Easter morning, April 11, 1982, a day after he went out for a meal with his bakery brethren, the 32-year-old father of five was found shot to death near the Berkeley dump.

Twenty-five years later, the case remains unsolved. But Allen's family remains convinced that his affiliation with the Oakland bakery was his undoing.

The bakery Allen joined two years before his death was dominated by the secret commands and public proclamations of one man, Yusuf Bey.

Allen was an unlikely convert to Your Black Muslim Bakery, his family recalled.

The favorite son of a Southern Baptist minister, skilled at cement masonry and tailoring, Allen grew up in Oakland and graduated from McClymonds High School.

After school, he worked in masonry and at a potato chip plant. He had little in common with the ex-cons and impoverished men and women drawn to the bakery's philosophy of self-reliance and empowerment.

His family thought he would follow his father to the pulpit.

"We thought he was going to be the next preacher," said his younger sister, Juanita Allen.

But for reasons his family still cannot fathom, Allen joined the bakery in 1980.

Yusuf Bey's proclivity for sex with both women and children is depicted in depositions made by the women who filed the lawsuit as well as Esperanza Johnson, one of the numerous women Bey considered his wives.

Allen joined the bakery with Odessa Hamilton, a single mother he had met through his two younger sisters.

The couple had two daughters together before the family moved across from the bakery on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland.

They had a third daughter while they lived there.

Allen made dashikis - traditional African outfits that enjoyed a renaissance during the black power movements of the 1960s and '70s - for the men of the bakery.

He also made cement masonry repairs on the bakery's brick buildings.

He soon met another woman in the bakery, Rashida Amin, whom he declared to be his Muslim wife. He also took the Muslim name Rashid.

His son from a previous relationship, Ron Jr., visited Allen at the bakery in 1981 at the age of 9. He remembers something strange, something he couldn't understand then.

His father kept a police-frequency radio scanner in his room. Other bakery members were "stationed within the vicinity, on walkie-talkies," Ron Jr. said.

Other members of the family have long wondered about the scanner and the walkie-talkies. They suggested that Allen knew the group wasn't just dealing in baked goods.

In the first week of April 1982, Carl Allen saw his brother for the last time.

At home in Vallejo on a day off from his work at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Carl was washing his car when Ron showed up in the middle of the day.

"He was acting really, really weird," Carl Allen recalled. He remembers his brother saying, "I just came by to see you again. I just wanted to see you again."

"He just kept saying it," Carl Allen said. "I couldn't get why."

Ron told him, "I love you, brother," then went off to see his parents.

Juanita Allen was there when he arrived, unannounced, with Hamilton and the couple's daughters. He was saying goodbye, in his way, his sister said.

"It was really weird. I can't explain it," she said. "He hugged Mom, he hugged Dad, he hugged me."

Hamilton wanted to stay there, but Allen insisted they had to go.

Hamilton told police that on the night before Easter, men showed up at their quarters across from the bakery and wanted to go to a restaurant with Allen, according to a coroner's report. That was the last time she saw him alive.

Shalina Allen, one of Ron Allen's daughters, said she remembers the day she last saw her father. She was not yet 3 years old, but she says she clearly remembers men in bow ties were waiting outside.

"He gave us all a kiss," she said. "He told us all he had to go."

Juanita Allen says her brother told Hamilton goodbye. "He knew he wasn't going to be back," she said.

At 5 a.m. the next day, a passer-by found Allen's body at the Berkeley dump, which is now part of a waterfront park. Police found four shotgun shell casings at the scene.

Allen's parents were devastated by his death. His father, already in ill health, died two years later at age 70. Allen's mother died a few months after that; she was 53.

She never spoke about what happened to her son.

Odessa Hamilton (Allen’s girlfriend) is a victim of the bakery's legacy. "When my dad died, she died, too," said Shalina Allen, now 28.

Hamilton, left to raise the children on her own, became involved in a bad relationship and got hooked on drugs. She lost an eye in a domestic violence incident.

She eventually was forced to give up her children to foster care. Now she is homeless and wanders the streets. "She is not even Odessa - she is somebody else," Shalina Allen said. "Odessa is gone - she has been dead for 25 years, too. She talks to herself, says she is talking to my dad."

Two women - who said they were raped and impregnated by Bey as children - recounted that story in sworn depositions they gave to support a 2002 lawsuit against the bakery, Bey and others.

They said they had heard about what happened but had not witnessed the killing.

Possible Motive for Ron Allen’s Murder: Police were later informed that Yusef Bey had ordered Ron Allen to give up his girlfriend and his oldest daughter, then just 4, to him, Allen refused and was killed shortly afterwards.

The informer who provided this information also identified at least one of the men involved in the killing but died of cancer not long after talking to police.

The police did not have enough evidence to support the claims of the informant and make an arrest. This case would eventually move to the ‘Cold Case,’ files but was recently reopened.

Source: Jaxon Van Derbekin @ The SF Chronicle