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2 Arrested in Stores' Vandalism

Oakland police expect to book others in trashing of businesses over alcohol sales to blacks.

November 30, 2005|From Associated Press

OAKLAND — Two men were arrested Tuesday for their alleged role in vandalizing a pair of stores for selling alcohol to blacks, Oakland police said.

Deputy Police Chief Howard Jordan said Donald Cunningham, 73, and Yusef Bey IV, 19, turned themselves in to face charges that include robbery, felony vandalism, conspiracy and terrorist threats. Police have obtained warrants charging four others with similar crimes and say they expect arrests soon.

Bey, who has been linked to a black Muslim group that runs the Your Black Muslim Bakery store chain, was taken to North County Jail and was being held on $200,000 bail, police said.

The arrests cap a bizarre seven days that have included the vandalism of the San Pablo Liquor store and the New York Market on Nov. 23 by men wearing suits and bow ties.

The men, all of whom were black, smashed liquor bottles and toppled food racks while demanding that both stores stop selling alcohol to black people, authorities said. Days later, the store clerk at the New York Market was kidnapped and the business was burned down.

The employee, Abdel Hamdan, was found safe in the trunk of a car Monday, about 12 hours after the fire.

Jordan said Cunningham and Bey have not been charged in the arson or kidnapping. The fire destroyed the store's merchandise and caused major structural damage to the building, police said.

The incident at San Pablo Liquor was caught on surveillance tape, and police said they have identified six of the 10 or 11 vandals and believe the same people trashed the New York Market.

Suspicion immediately fell on the Nation of Islam, a group of black Muslims whose members often wear suits and bow ties. Jordan said the suspects, however, are not members of the Nation of Islam. He held out the possibility that they belong to a separate Muslim group based in Oakland. In 1993, Muslims affiliated with a group that operates the Your Black Muslim Bakery chain, and whose members also wear suits and bow ties, were involved in a similar incident at a Richmond liquor store, police said.

Investigators were looking into the recent vandalism as hate crimes because the store owners are of Middle Eastern background and are Muslims, Jordan said Monday.

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