It has been nearly 27 years since San Francisco was paralyzed by a series of homicides that later would be known as the Zebra Murders. First and foremost, my sympathies go out to the victims and their families.
According to the book (public sources), “The Zebra Murders,” written by Earl Sanders and Bennett Cohen, 21 random shootings occurred. The perpetrators used a 32 caliber handgun leaving 14 wounded and seven dead. The victims varied in ages: Ms. Dorene Racouilla a 20-year old nurse at Presido Hospital; Ms. Theresa Demartini a 21-year old sophomore at San Francisco State College; Mr. Llairo Bertuccio an 81-year old handy man on Social Security supplementing his income working for 7-up Bottling Company in the Bayview district; Ms. Jane Holly, wife and mother, employed at Wells Fargo Bank; Mr. Art Agons, former community activist who went on to become Mayor of San Francisco for a term and the list goes on. May God Almighty have mercy on their souls and grant their families peace.
There is also another tragedy, for nearly 37 years the men who were arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for these crimes have maintained their innocence. I BELIEVE THEM! Their lives and the lives of their love ones have been torn apart. The fact that they were members of The Nation of Islam should not have been an indictment.
The philosophy and practice of The Nation of Islam was non violence. This practice was enforced across the country rigorously then and now by Nation of Islam officials. The fact that they were employed at the Black Self-Help Moving Company should not have been an indictment. The core of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad teachings is Do for Self!
According to public sources, no weapons were ever found to connect these gentlemen to these horrible crimes. No forensic or DNA evidence. What connected these men was the testimony of a man who received immunity for his role in these crimes and a $30,000.00 bounty. It is impossible for me to believe that Anthony Harris could give such detailed accounts of these hideous crimes and not take part in them.
Who is Anthony Harris? According to public sources, he has been in and out of jail all his life. His mother had him committed to a mental hospital because of his violence. He also had serious drug problems. According to his fiancÅ½ at the time, Carolyn Patton, he came in one night covered with blood and told her he had been out killing devils. His testimony was he never participated in any of these murders nor did he witness them. Does this sound like someone who sits on the sidelines as these horrors took place?
On the other hand, according to public sources Mr. Larry Green and Mr. J.C. Simons did not have an arrest record. Mr. Green was raised in Berkeley, California in one of the most affluent African-American neighborhoods in the bay area. As was mentioned earlier, he had no arrest record. He was in college and engaged to be married. When these charges were brought against him, Mr. J.C. Simons migrated to Los Angeles from Texas. He also had a college background. Both Mr. Simons and Mr. Green worked for the Black Self Help Moving Company.
It provided an excellent opportunity for both men to be involved in the reformation of the lives of young men who did not have the benefit of a family or solid up bringing. Both men have spent the last 36 years in custody during which time neither have had a blemish or misconduct on their record. I understand they are both mentors encouraging young inmates to avoid trouble, get an education as well as a trade that will allow them to return to their communities as a credit instead of a liability. Is this the conduct of serial killers?
I understand none of their psychiatric evaluations have shown a propensity toward violence, yet they continue to waste away in prison not under a life sentence but a death sentence.
No one will probably ever understand the pressure former Mayor Joseph Alioto was under to end this madness. I BELIEVE A RUSH TO JUDGMENT was a major part of the decision to arrest Mr. Larry Green, Mr. J.C. Simons, and Mr. Manuel Moore. Prior to their arrest, there was an order to arrest all African-American males. This order was issued by Mayor Alioto. The only reason it stopped there was a public outcry against this open discrimination. To compound the problem, according to public sources, the Mayor’s wife Angelina ran off for eighteen days and he did not know where she was. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the kidnapping of one of wealthiest women in America, Patty Hearst.
I believe all this pressure made the Mayor vulnerable and willing to accept any leads the investigators might come up with. Anthony Harris’ deal got the Mayor’s attention, even though his credibility was tainted at best. His involvement in these murders was obvious, but the Mayor wanted to make an arrest regardless. Politicians are leaders or at least they should be! Part of how they function is like a general in a war making sure the troops feel secure, but there is another function politicians have that is not instilling confidence or appealing to base constituency, it is about doing what is right.Â
The temptation in a situation like the Zebra Case is to do what ever gets the quickest results. However, the government cannot respond to public panic by panicking itself, acting more to stem the panic than solve the problem at hand. The attacks on the Nation of Islam and to some how involve the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in these vicious crimes, is malicious and disgraceful.
I feel compelled to set the record straight. The Temples throughout the Nation of Islam were like incubators. They were places for growth and development. African-Americans then and now suffer from some of the worst social ills in this country. Drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, incarceration, gang violence, you name it. All the anti poverty programs combined did not make a difference. The Nation of Islam met this challenge head on. We walked into those Temples throughout America as social worms, at the bottom of society and emerged as beautiful butterflies.
Men ready to be fathers, husbands, and bread winners in their homes. Our women ready to be wives, mothers, and role models for our daughters. The religious, moral, and social reformation performed by the Nation of Islam was magical. I am so grateful to God Almighty for the life giving teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad then and now. I would rather see a young 18 or 19 year old African-American male in a BOW TIE than a DRIVE-BY.
Speaking of violence and the Nation of Islam weapons were absolutely forbidden. In every Temple across this country everyone was checked to make sure no weapons were permitted into our places of worship and every where we assembled.
Finally, I understand Mr. Jamie Foxx is going to portray one of the lead investigators in a movie called the Zebra Murders. I hope he remains the Jamie Foxx this community as grown to respect for his integrity and professionalism. I hope he does the research to make sure he is aware of some of the deals made and tactics used in making arrest. Mr. Foxx did such a great job in portraying Mr. Tookie Williams. I hope he stays consistent. Mr. Foxx visited Tookie Williams to get the actual facts so he could keep it real. I would like to see him visit Mr. Larry Green for the same reason. The tragedies surrounding the Zebra Case have forever changed the lives of the families of the victims as well as the families of the innocent.