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CIR scores huge with Your Black Muslim Bakery tale

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kudos to the Center for Investigative Reporting for its multimedia telling of the Kowana Banks story. She’s the courageous woman who came forward a decade ago as Jane Doe 1 ready to expose the late Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey Sr. as a serial child molester. He died before he could be brought to justice. (Bey Sr. was the patriarch of the organized crime outfit that terrorized Oakland while ingratiating itself to local politicians. One of his sons, Yusuf Bey IV, who ultimately succeeded him, is a convicted killer of journalist Chauncey Bailey).

The video was produced and edited by Ariane Wu. Louise Rafkin writes the story. Adithya Sambamurthy shot the interview footage.

The backstory of Rafkin’s involvement is extraordinary, to say the least. It came from a chance meeting with Banks and her therapist at UC Berkeley, where journalist Thomas Peele was reading from “Killing the Messenger,” his book about the bakery clan.

From California Watch:

Since 2001, reporter Louise Rafkin has run a martial arts studio called Studio Naga on the same North Oakland block where Yusuf Bey Sr.’s Your Black Muslim Bakery compound was located. But during her reporting for this story, Rafkin discovered that Studio Naga is in the very space that formerly housed Bey’s school, where abuse victim Kowana Banks took care of his children.

“This is where it all happened,” Banks said when she entered Rafkin’s studio. 

With the bakery’s retail storefront just two doors away, Rafkin over the years was a firsthand witness to the violence and mayhem leading up to the Oakland police raid in 2007.

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