!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News

Context of 'October 20, 1973 - May 1, 1974: Racially Motivated ‘Zebra’ Killings Sweep through San Francisco'

This is a scalable context timeline. It contains events related to the event October 20, 1973 - May 1, 1974: Racially Motivated ‘Zebra’ Killings Sweep through San Francisco. You can narrow or broaden the context of this timeline by adjusting the zoom level. The lower the scale, the more relevant the items on average will be, while the higher the scale, the less relevant the items, on average, will be.

Anthony Cornelius Harris.Anthony Cornelius Harris. [Source: Corbis / TruTV]A wave of politically motivated murders takes place in San Francisco, claiming the lives of 15 people. Eight others are wounded. Most of the victims are shot to death; the first two victims, Richard Hague and his wife Quita, are attacked with machete blows. Quita Hague is also sexually molested. She is nearly decapitated, but Hague, though suffering terrible wounds, survives. Shopkeeper Saleem “Sammy” Erakat, a Jordanian Arab, is murdered, apparently for appearing “too white.” College student Angela Roselli, who survives an attack, remembers her assailant as having “this zombie look” as he shot her. “It was like he was in a trance. He was looking at me, but he was looking through me,” she says. The killings, called the “Zebra murders,” are later found to be racially motivated. “It was a very frightening time for the people of this city because of the random nature of the shootings,” future San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos will recall; Agnos is gravely wounded by one of the killers in December 1973, shot twice in the back. The killings are perpetrated by a small number of black extremists, members of the “Death Angels,” a splinter group from the Nation of Islam, which officially repudiates violence in its name. Mayor Joseph Alioto tells reporters that the “Death Angels” are a group “dedicated to the murder and mutilation of whites and dissident blacks.” Local press accounts falsely report that the killings are “initiation rituals” for membership in the Nation of Islam, and local African-American leaders take umbrage at Alioto’s implication that members of that organization are responsible for the murders. The name “Zebra” does not come from the black-against-white nature of the murders, but from the special radio band, “Z for Zebra,” used by police during their seven-month hunt for the killers. During the intensive police investigation, Alioto orders sweeping stop-and-search patrols that target many black males over six feet tall. After some 600 black men are detained, US District Judge Alphonso Zirpoli rules the dragnet is unconstitutional, calling it racial “profiling.” Agnos will recall: “The whole city was just in the grip of terror. But it was an ugly thing, a time when we failed our test on our commitment to civil liberties. When we are fearful, we tend to compromise that commitment too quickly.” Robert Brooks, a security guard detained and questioned by police, tells a reporter: “I think the mayor is persecuting the black community for the acts of a few crazy dudes. If the killings continue, some other people are talking about retaliation against blacks. That will be too bad. The thing is bad enough now.” Anthony Cornelius Harris, an accomplice in the murders, eventually gives information that leads to the arrest and conviction of four men: Manuel Moore, J.C. Simon, Larry C. Green, and Jessie Lee Cooks. All of the four are later convicted of 74 counts of murder, conspiracy, and assault. Moore, Simon, and Green will insist they are innocent of the charges; Cooks has already pled guilty to the murder of one of the victims, physical therapist Frances Rose. Another participant, Leroy Decker, who attempted to kill a gas company clerk, Robert Stoeckmann, is later convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. Five others are arrested and charged with participation in the murders, but are later released for lack of evidence. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/13/2002; TruTV, 2010]

Entity Tags: J.C. Simon, Art Agnos, Anthony Cornelius Harris, Angela Roselli, Alphonso Zirpoli, Frances Rose, Robert Stoeckmann, Saleem (“Sammy”) Erakat, Quita Hague, Larry C. Green, Joseph Alioto, Jessie Lee Cooks, Leroy Decker, Death Angels, Manuel Moore, Nation of Islam, Richard Hague

Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism

San Francisco International Airport.San Francisco International Airport. [Source: CBS]San Francisco International Airport, the original destination of Flight 93, the fourth aircraft to be hijacked in the morning’s terrorist attacks, is evacuated except for essential personnel and shut down. [Associated Press, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001] About 3,000 people are evacuated from the airport. [Associated Press, 9/12/2001; Los Angeles Times, 9/12/2001] Bomb-sniffing dogs patrol the hallways. [Associated Press, 9/11/2001] While the other major Bay Area airports are also shut down, only San Francisco Airport evacuates its terminals and closes its access roads. [Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 9/12/2001] Security is heightened at many US airports, but the security precautions are particularly high at the San Francisco and Los Angeles airports (see 12:04 p.m. September 11, 2001), since these were the intended destinations of the four hijacked aircraft. [Associated Press, 9/11/2001; Los Angeles Times, 9/12/2001]

Entity Tags: San Francisco International Airport

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Three men are charged with beating two Mexican nationals in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood in November 2010. The three men, Robert Allen, Anthony Weston, and Justin Meskan, all plead not guilty to assault charges with hate crime enhancements. If convicted, the three face a maximum of 10 years in prison. Allen, Weston, Meskan, and two others attacked two Hispanic men while screaming “White power!” and racial slurs near a Tenderloin bar. The two others involved in the assault remain at large. The five attacked one of the men from behind, knocking him to the ground and beating and kicking him unconscious. The second man tried to intervene, but was himself attacked. Lead prosecutor Victor Hwang says, “We have produced information at the preliminary hearing which links them to groups we believe are white supremacist groups.” District Attorney of San Francisco George Gascon calls the attack “an attack of extreme violence [that] should raise concerns for the entire community.” San Franciso has seen an upswing in hate crimes recently, largely from incidents involving members of white supremacist groups. One of the two victims returned to Mexico after the attack, but the Consulate General of Mexico worked with the district attorney’s office to convince him to return to the US for the duration of the court proceedings. The man’s return to Mexico was due to “concerns about their safety more than concerns about their immigration status,” according to Mexico’s deputy consul general in San Francisco. Gascon says there is “a great likelihood that there are other victims we are not aware of” who have been targeted in a hate crime, and encourages them to come forward regardless of whether they are undocumented. “It’s critically important for people to report these crimes to us,” he says. “Immigration status is not relevant to us in prosecuting these cases.” A source tells a reporter that the charges against Allen, Weston, and Meskan are just “the tip of the iceberg,” and that the FBI and Secret Service are involved with San Francisco police in an investigation which may result in more arrests. [KTVU-TV, 3/17/2011; KGO-TV, 3/17/2011; San Franciso Appeal, 3/17/2011]

Entity Tags: Justin Meskan, Anthony Weston, George Gascon, Victor Hwang, Robert Allen

Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism

Ordering 

Time period


Email Updates

Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database

 
Donate

Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
Donate Now

Volunteer

If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.
Contact Us

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike