It’s extremely rare for a reporter to be killed in the United States. Maybe that’s why the journalism community was abuzz when Chauncey Bailey was murdered on a summer morning in 2007. The daily newspapers and local television stations picked up on the crime story. Editorials across the country proclaimed, rightfully so, that journalists would not succumb to intimidation. In the Bay Area, a coalition of news outlets joined forces and vowed to dig deeper into the story than anyone had previously. But I didn’t see anyone taking time to explore how these two paths—Bailey’s and that of Your Black Muslim Bakery, the organization implicated in the murder—grew out of a common history and later came to collide with one another.
A Day Late in Oakland is not a story of an investigation or hunt for a suspect. I figured those kinds of angles were best left to the newspapers, especially since I was in production so soon after the crime. Rather, this documentary is a look at layers of history, racism, politics, and power. It’s a search for understanding how a murder like Bailey’s can happen in 21st century America in the first place.