Vital Signs

The Zebra Killings

As President Clinton's Dialogue on Race draws to a close, his panel will be offering a final report on how to remedy the evils of racism in America. Given the members of the hand-picked panel, it can be said with certainty that the racism to be remedied will be white racism and only white racism. But while this modern day Kerner Commission is working on its report, a California group is trying to focus attention on one of the most troubling episodes of racial murder in the nation's history.

The San Jose-based European American Issues Forum (E/AIF) is going to hold a memorial ceremony on October 20 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Zebra killings—one of America's worst cases of serial murder. These racially motivated hate crimes occurred between 1972 and 1974 and left 71 people dead. They were dubbed the Zebra killings because of the radio channel used by the police investigating the case (channel Z). But the name would later take on a more sinister meaning as it became apparent that a group of blacks was systematically killing whites merely because they were white.

It was not until the attacks became centralized in San Francisco starting in October 1973 that police knew they had a case of serial killings on their hands. While all serial murders are disturbing and the work of psychopathic minds, authorities were doubly disturbed by the nature of these attacks. Not only were they racially motivated, but...

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