The Bow Tie Gang and Oakland Liquor Stores

Television viewers nationwide were recently treated to surveillance camera videotape of well—dressed black men in suits and bow ties trashing liquor stores in Oakland, California. Early reports scrupulously avoided mention of words like 'Muslim' or 'Islam.' But most people had some suspicions about just who might be involved.

Now, a few days later, matters are beginning to come into focus. No suspects have been named or charged yet, so no accusations are being made here. But here are some late—developing facts.

The Nation of Islam, the Chicago group headed by Louis Farrakhan, has strongly denounced the attacks, said that none of its followers had anything to do with them, and the Oakland Police have confirmed that no NOI groups or individuals are under suspicion.

"No one from the Nation of Islam is under investigation," Deputy Chief Howard Jordan said Saturday. "We are satisfied that they are not involved in this."

On the other hand, a rival local group, known locally as the Black Muslims, whose members also dress in suits and bow ties, is getting no such exoneration.

Jordan declined to say whether a separate black Muslim group based on San Pablo Avenue in North Oakland was under investigation....

Members of that group, which operates the Your Black Muslim Bakery store chain, also wear bow ties and suits similar to those popular with the Nation of Islam.

The North Oakland group, which was headed for about 30 years by founder Yusuf Bey until his 2003 death, has no ties to the Nation of Islam, a national group based in Chicago and headed by Louis Farrakhan.

No spokesperson for the North Oakland group returned calls by The Chronicle, and bakery employees declined to comment.

Roughly 80% of the 359 liquor stores in Oakland are owned by Yemeni—Americans, presumably themselves of the Islamic persuasion. In the past there have been what are described as 'tensions' between community groups and the liquor stores. Who get blamed for the young males who tend to loiter about them, as well as for the anti—social behavior of some patrons, who, presumably, would not misbehave but for the presence of a liquor store.

The Black Muslim group was founded by Yusuf Bey, a man with a troubling history,  who was charged with 27 sex crimes, molesting girls under the age of 14 for over two decades, but who died of cancer before trial. The Black Muslim organization runs a chain of bakeries and has even been allowed to run a pushcart sales outlet at busy Oakland International Airport. They have even on occasion received good publicity.

Of course, I would not suggest that members of this group are responsible for the crimes in the liquor stores. They have not been accused of anything. But signs are encouraging that someone may soon be charged with these crimes.

Thomas Lifson   11 27 05

Television viewers nationwide were recently treated to surveillance camera videotape of well—dressed black men in suits and bow ties trashing liquor stores in Oakland, California. Early reports scrupulously avoided mention of words like 'Muslim' or 'Islam.' But most people had some suspicions about just who might be involved.

Now, a few days later, matters are beginning to come into focus. No suspects have been named or charged yet, so no accusations are being made here. But here are some late—developing facts.

The Nation of Islam, the Chicago group headed by Louis Farrakhan, has strongly denounced the attacks, said that none of its followers had anything to do with them, and the Oakland Police have confirmed that no NOI groups or individuals are under suspicion.

"No one from the Nation of Islam is under investigation," Deputy Chief Howard Jordan said Saturday. "We are satisfied that they are not involved in this."

On the other hand, a rival local group, known locally as the Black Muslims, whose members also dress in suits and bow ties, is getting no such exoneration.

Jordan declined to say whether a separate black Muslim group based on San Pablo Avenue in North Oakland was under investigation....

Members of that group, which operates the Your Black Muslim Bakery store chain, also wear bow ties and suits similar to those popular with the Nation of Islam.

The North Oakland group, which was headed for about 30 years by founder Yusuf Bey until his 2003 death, has no ties to the Nation of Islam, a national group based in Chicago and headed by Louis Farrakhan.

No spokesperson for the North Oakland group returned calls by The Chronicle, and bakery employees declined to comment.

Roughly 80% of the 359 liquor stores in Oakland are owned by Yemeni—Americans, presumably themselves of the Islamic persuasion. In the past there have been what are described as 'tensions' between community groups and the liquor stores. Who get blamed for the young males who tend to loiter about them, as well as for the anti—social behavior of some patrons, who, presumably, would not misbehave but for the presence of a liquor store.

The Black Muslim group was founded by Yusuf Bey, a man with a troubling history,  who was charged with 27 sex crimes, molesting girls under the age of 14 for over two decades, but who died of cancer before trial. The Black Muslim organization runs a chain of bakeries and has even been allowed to run a pushcart sales outlet at busy Oakland International Airport. They have even on occasion received good publicity.

Of course, I would not suggest that members of this group are responsible for the crimes in the liquor stores. They have not been accused of anything. But signs are encouraging that someone may soon be charged with these crimes.

Thomas Lifson   11 27 05