bureaucracybusters

Posts Tagged ‘SAN FRANCISCO’

IN SAN FRANCISCO, FEED THE BUMS, NOT THE BIRDS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 12, 2017 at 12:01 am

If you visit San Francisco, forget what Julie Andrews told you in Mary Poppins: Don’t “Feed the Birds.”

Getting caught doing so can net you a fine from $25 to $1,000.

City officials launched the campaign in 2004, fining people who fed pigeons in the Tenderloin area. Within a month, they extended the crackdown to Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and the cable car turnaround in downtown.

Feeding birds “damages property, and it’s not good for the bird population,” said Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for the Public Works Department at the time of the ban.

“We have a whole education campaign letting people know it’s against the law,” said Falvey.

This includes posters erected by the Department of Public Works, which read:

“Please do not feed the pigeons. There are dozens of reasons why, but mainly: feeding pigeons harms our neighborhoods and also harms the birds.

“Large population of pigeons is a health hazard. Our huge feral pigeon population is a health hazard and creates many problems in the city.

“Pigeon droppings dirty public spaces, do costly damage to buildings, and can spread life-threatening diseases, especially to the elderly and immune-deficient. Their nesting materials block drains and harbor parasites like bird mites. Pigeon food makes a mess and attracts rats.

“Feeding pigeons promotes over-breeding. Pigeon feeding produces over-breeding.

“Pigeons normally breed two or three times a year, producing two eggs per brood. Overfed city pigeons can breed up to eight times a year.

“Pigeons are harmed when fed. When you feed pigeons, you are not doing them a favor. They lose their natural ability to scavenge and survive on their own.

“Pigeon over population leads to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and produces sick and injured birds. A smaller flock is healthier and does less damage.

“It is illegal. It’s against the law to feed pigeons on the streets or sidewalks of San Francisco (Sec. 486. M.P.C). Violators may be cited and fined.

“You can help keep your neighborhood safe and clean and the pigeon population under control by not feeding pigeons. Keep edible garbage away from pigeons by discarding it in a securely covered garbage can.

“And don’t feed pets outside.You may report pigeon feeders to the San Francisco Police Department at 415-553-0123, or by calling 3-1-1. 

“Please join in on the efforts to keep San Francisco clean and beautiful by NOT feeding the pigeons.”

* * * * *

At the same time that city officials are telling residents, “Please don’t feed the pigeons,” they aren’t telling them, “Please don’t feed the bums.”

Because of its mild climate and social programs that give cash payments to just-arrived vagrants, San Francisco is often considered the homelessness capital of the United States.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (1996–2004) actually proposed that the city create electronic cards for transients that residents could swipe with their credit cards, thus transferring money from their accounts to that of the recipient.

Brown dropped the idea when faced with the brutal truth that not many citizens–especially women–would be willing to whip out their credit card when confronted by a smelly, unshaved and possibly psychotic transient.

San Francisco spends $250 million annually on services for what are now euphemistically called “the homeless.”That’s because city officials don’t want to use words that accurately describe who makes up the overwhelming majority of this population:

  • Druggies
  • Drunks
  • Mental cases
  • Bums

Eight city departments oversee at least 400 contracts to 76 private organizations, most of them nonprofits, that are charged with eliminating this pestilence.

Estimates of this population range from 7,000-10,000 people, of which approximately 3,000-5,000 refuse shelter.

A similar public crackdown on “bum-feeders” could go like this:

“Please do not feed the bums. There are dozens of reasons why, but mainly: feeding bums harms our neighborhoods and also harms the bums.

“Our huge feral bum population is a health hazard and creates many problems in the city.Bum droppings dirty public spaces, do costly damage to buildings, and can spread life-threatening diseases, especially to the elderly and immune-deficient.

“Their stolen shopping carts and filthy possessions block sidewalks and harbor parasites like bedbugs and lice. Bum food makes a mess and attracts rats.

“Feeding bums promotes overbreeding.  Bums normally travel alone, foraging for drugs and/or alcohol.Pampered city bums flock to liquor stores and drug dens where they can indulge their vices, thus taxing city medical services to the limit.

“When you feed bums, you are not doing them a favor. They lose their natural ability to find work and support themselves and their families.

“Bum over population leads to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and produces sick and injured bums. A smaller horde is healthier and does less damage.

“It’s against the law to feed bums on the streets or sidewalks of San Francisco. Violators may be cited and fined.

“You can help keep your neighborhood safe and clean and the bum population under control by not feeding bums.

“Keep edible garbage away from bums by discarding it in a securely covered garbage can. And don’t feed bums outside.

“It is Illegal.  You may report bum feeders to the San Francisco Police Department at 415-553-0123, or by calling 3-1-1.

“Please join in on the efforts to keep San Francisco clean and beautiful by NOT feeding the bums.”

PAY MORE TAXES, GET LESS FOR THEM

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 1, 2016 at 6:20 am

The budget for the City and County of San Francisco for 2016-17 is $9.6 billion. Its proposed budget for 2017-18 is $9.7 billion.

San Francisco occupies 46.87 miles and has a population of 837,442.

Roughly half of the budget goes toward city-related business operations–such as the Port, the bus line, the Airport and the Public Utilities Commission.

The other half of the budget goes toward such public services as Public Health, Police and Fire Services, Recreation and Parks.

As the November 8 election quickly approaches, the most controversial issue on the city ballot is Proposition V.

Specifically, this calls for a tax of one cent per ounce from the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Related image

Currently, San Francisco does not impose a tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverage.

The initiative defines “a sugar-sweetened beverage” as “a beverage that contains added sugar and 25 or more calories per 12 ounces.

“These include some soft drinks, sports drinks, iced tea, juice drinks and energy drinks. The tax would also apply to syrups and powders that can be made into sugar-sweetened beverages, for example, fountain drinks from beverage-dispensing machines.”

Supporters of the initiative are trying to sell it via the “save our kids” argument. The Vote Yes on V campaign states:

“On November 8th, the health of children in San Francisco relies on us.

“Proposition V will tax distributors of soda and other sugary drinks that have direct links to obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart and liver disease.”

Left unsaid is how putting more money into city coffers would lead children to show more restraint in buying “sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Perhaps the real reason why many city officials enthusiastically back this measure can be found in a statement by the San Francisco Controller:

“Should this ordinance be approved, in my opinion, it would result in an annual tax revenue increase to the City of approximately $7.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2017–2018 and $15 million in FY 2018–19The tax is a general tax and proceeds would be deposited into the General Fund.”

Related image

San Francisco Controller’s Office

San Francisco takes in more than $9 billion in taxes every year. But for many San Francisco officials this just isn’t enough.

Yet for many San Francisco residents, it is. In 2014, they defeated a similar soda tax.

Opponents of the tax have attacked it as a “grocery tax.” They argue that grocers–especially those running the mom-and-pop stores popular in San Francisco–will pass on the costs to their customers by raising prices on groceries altogether.

Proposition V supporters claim this is a lie. Rebecca Kaplan, a member of the Oakland Council, told the Huffington Post: “People worry about having to pay for their groceries. To threaten that their groceries are going to be taxed when it’s not true is a totally despicable tactic from the soda industry.”

Actually, there is nothing in the measure to prevent grocers from passing the tax on to consumers.

Meanwhile, what are San Franciscans getting for the $9 billion in taxes City Hall collects?

  • Call the general number of the police or fire department–and chances are you’ll get a recorded message telling you to wait your turn in line.

Call even 9-1-1 and the odds are great that you’ll get the same message. And if you complain to a city official about it, you’ll likely be told: “Well, we have only so many operators.”

The last thing someone calling police or the fire department in a crisis wants to hear is: “We’ll get back to you when we feel like it.”

  • Or wander into downtown Market Street, a major thoroughfare into the heart of San Francisco.

You’ll find its red-brick blocks filled with stinking, disease-ridden, drug- or alcohol-addicted, often psychotic men and women whom city officials politely call “the homeless.”

In 2016, the city spent $241 million on “homeless” services. But the population surges between 7,000 and 10,000. Of these, 3,000 to 5,000 refuse shelter.

City officials admit that San Francisco ranks second to New York in homelessness. What they won’t admit is that they are largely responsible for it.

The city’s mild climate and social programs that dole out cash payments to virtually anyone with no residency requirement draw rootless, unstable persons like a magnet.

  • The problems affecting the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) aren’t as obvious as the homeless infesting the city’s streets. But they are nevertheless real.

Related image

In 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle found that the city’s violent criminals had a better chance of escaping punishment than predators in any other large American city.

The SFPD had the lowest violent crime “clearance rate” among the nation’s 20 largest cities. Among Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, the SFPD is considered a joke.

  • At the San District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors often can’t decide if they want to lock up criminals–or defend them.

From 2004 to 2011, Kamala Harris served as the city’s District Attorney. In total defiance of the law, she set up a secret unit to keep even convicted illegal aliens out of prison.

Kamala Harris

Her program, called Back on Track, trained them for jobs they could not legally hold. This was a flagrant violation of Federal immigration law. It is not the duty of local law enforcement, she said, to enforce Federal immigration laws.

In San Francisco, you don’t necessarily get what you pay for.

COMBATING SLUMLORDS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 25, 2016 at 1:53 am

City agencies need to see landlords for what they truly are–as, at best, potential predators, if not actual ones. And to act on that knowledge. 

As Niccolo Machiavelli warned:

“All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it. 

“If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself.  But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.”

Related image

Niccolo Machiavelli

The power of slumlords calls to mind the scene in 1987’s The Untouchables, where Sean Connery’s veteran cop tells Eliot Ness: “Everybody knows where the liquor is. It’s just a question of: Who wants to cross Capone?”

Many tenants have lived with rotting floors, bedbugs, nonworking toilets, mice/rats, chipping lead-based paint and other outrages for not simply months but years

This holds true across the United States. But it also holds true in San Francisco–the “renters’ paradise” where the District Attorney’s Office hasn’t prosecuted a slumlord in decades

Part Two of this series presented a series of badly-needed, long-overdue reforms for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI). This is the agency charged to ensuring safe housing conditions for San Francisco residents.

This concluding part will cover the remainder of those needed reforms. 

  • Landlords should be required to bring all the units in a building up to existing building codes, and not just those in need of immediate repair.  
  • Landlords should be legally required to hire a certified-expert contractor to perform building repairs. To save money–that they can well afford to spend–many landlords insist on making such repairs despite their not being trained or experienced in doing so. They thereby risk the health and/or safety of their tenants. 
  • DBI should not view itself as a “mediation” agency between landlords and tenants. Most landlords hate DBI and will always do so. They believe they should be allowed to treat their tenants like serfs, if not slaves, raise extortionate rents anytime they desire, and maintain their buildings in whatever state they wish. And no efforts by DBI to persuade them of its good intentions will ever change their minds.   
  • Above all, DBI must stop viewing itself as a regulatory agency and start seeing itself as a law enforcement one. The FBI doesn’t ask criminals to comply with the law. It applies whatever amount of pressure is needed to force their compliance. William Tecumseh Sherman, speaking of the rebellious Southern states, said it best: “They cannot be made to love us, but they may be made to fear us.”  
  • The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office should create a special unit to investigate and  prosecute slumlords. Prosecutors should offer rewards to citizens who provide tips on major outrages by the city’s slumlords.  

  • Install Rent Control protections for tenants on fixed incomes. San Francisco is notorious for having the highest rents in the nation. A one-bedroom apartment runs $3,448 a month. Even those in the vaunted high-tech industry spend most of their income on rent.
  • For tenants on fixed incomes–seniors, disabled, students–the predatory greed of landlords amounts to a staged-in eviction notice.  Social Security recipients did not get a cost-of-living increase in 2016 because there had not been a rise in the price of gasoline. But the fact that many of them do not own cars doesn’t mean that the price of everything else–such as groceries–hasn’t sharply risen.  
  • Allowing landlords to jack up rents to the fullest extent possible every year will eventually drive out all tenants who are not multimillionaires. In fact, an unknown portion of this City’s homeless population doubtless stems from the ability of landlords to gradually raise rents above tenants’ ability to afford them.  
  • In 1979, San Franciscans passed a Rent Control law to protect tenants against predatory rent hikes and unfair evictions. As a result, a landlord can only raise a tenant’s rent a certain percentage every year. This is set by the set by the Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board, more popularly known as the “Rent Board.”  
  • But there is a gaping hole in the law: Once a tenant moves out, the landlord can jack up the rent as high as he wants. This is why the average rent in San Francisco is priced beyond most middle-class wage-earners. 
  • In addition, landlords are allowed to charge tenants yearly fees to maintain the existence of the Rent Board. This is both unfair and insulting, since the Board was created to protect tenants from predatory landlords. Most tenants have far less money to pay such fees than do landlords, who are free to raise rents every year. And landlords–unlike tenants–can and do write off Rent Board fees on their taxes every year. Thus, landlords–not tenants–should be paying the fees.  

As Robert F. Kennedy wrote: “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”

COMBATING SLUMLORDS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 24, 2016 at 12:28 am

The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI) has long been outmaneuvered by predatory, law-breaking landlords.

And San Francisco renters–many of them elderly, poor and/or disabled–have been the victims of landlord greed, neglect and/or harassment.

Related image

Among the reforms that DBI should immediately enact:

  • Hit slumlord violators with a fine–payable immediately–for at least $2,000 to $5,000 for each health/safety-code violation.The slumlord would be told he could reclaim 75-80% of the money only if he fully corrected the violation within 30 days. The remaining portion of the levied fine would go into the City coffers, to be shared among DBI and other City agencies.
  • This would put the onus on the slumlord, not DBI. Appealing to his greed would ensure his willingness to comply with the ordered actions. As matters now stand, it is DBI who must repeatedly check with the slumlord to find out if its orders have been complied with.  
  • If the landlord failed to comply with the actions ordered within 30 days, the entire fine would go into the City’s coffers–to be divided among DBI and other agencies charged with protecting San Francisco residents.  
  • In addition. he would be hit again with a fine at least twice the amount of the first one.  
  • Inspectors for DBI should be allowed to cite landlords for violations that fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Health (DPH). They could then pass the information to DPH for its own investigation.  
  • If the DBI inspector later discovered that the landlord had not corrected the DPH violation within a designated time-period, DBI should be allowed to levy its own fine for his failure to do so.
  • If DPH objects to this, DBI should propose that DPH’s own inspectors be armed with similar cross-jurisdictional authority. Each agency would thus have increased motivation for spotting and correcting health/safety violations that threaten the lives of San Francisco residents.

  • This would instantly turn DBI and DPH into allies, not competitors. And it would mean that whether a citizen called DBI or DPH, s/he could be assured of getting the necessary assistance. As matters now stand, many residents are confused by the conflicting jurisdictions of both agencies.  
  • DBI should insist that its Inspectors Division be greatly expanded. DBI can attain this by arguing that reducing the number of Inspectors cuts (1) protection for San Francisco renters–and (2) monies that could go to the general City welfare.
  • The Inspection Division should operate independently of DBI. Currently,  too many high-ranking DBI officials tilt toward landlords because they are landlords themselves.
  • DBI should create a Special Research Unit to compile records on the worst slumlord offenders. Thus, a slumlord with a repeat history of defying DBI Notices of Violation could be treated more harshly than a landlord who was a first-time offender.
  • Turning DBI into a revenue-producing agency would enable the City to raise desperately-needed revenues–in a highly popular way. Fining delinquent slumlords would be as unpopular as raising taxes on tobacco companies. Only slumlords and their hired lackey allies would object.  
  • DBI should legally require landlords to rehabilitate a unit every time a new tenant moves in, or have it examined by a DBI inspector every two years.  A tenant can occupy a unit for ten or more years, then die or move out, and the landlord immediately rents the unit to the first person who comes along, without making any repairs or upgrades whatsoever.
  • Slumlords, unlike drug-dealers, can’t move their buildings from one street or city to another. If they want to make money in San Francisco, they will have to submit to the jurisdiction of landlord-regulating agencies.  
  • DBI should require landlords to post their Notices of Violation in public areas of their buildings–on pain of serious financial penalties for failing to do so. When DBI orders a slumlord to take corrective action, s/he is the only one who is notified.  If that slumlord refuses to comply with that directive, s/he is the only one who knows it. Given the pressing demands on DBI, weeks or months will pass before the agency learns about this violation of its orders. Tenants have a right to know if their landlord is complying with the law–so they can promptly notify inform DBI if a violation is occurring. 

  • Landlords should be legally required to give each tenant a list of the major city agencies (such as DBI, the Rent Board and the Department of Public Health) that exist to help tenants solve problems with their housing.
  • DBI should launch–and maintain–a citywide advertising campaign to alert residents about its services. Everyone knows the FBI pursues bank robbers. But too many San Franciscans don’t even know that DBI exists, let alone what laws it enforces. This should be an in-your-face campaign: “Do you have bedbugs in your apartment? Has your stove stopped working? Are you afraid to ride in your building elevator because it’s always malfunctioning? Have you complained to your landlord and gotten the runaround? Then call DBI at—- Or drop us an email at_____.”

COMBATING SLUMLORDS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 23, 2016 at 12:04 am

To hear slumlords tell it, San Francisco is a “renters’ paradise,” where obnoxious, lazy, rent-evading tenants constantly take advantage of hard-working, put-upon landlords.

Don’t believe it.

And in case you’re inclined to anyway, consider the story of Kip and Nicole Macy, two San Francisco slumlords who recently pled guilty to felony charges of residential burglary, stalking and attempted grand theft.

Related image

Kip Macy

Related image

Nicole Macy

Determined to evict rent control-protected tenants from their apartment building in the South of Market district, they unleashed a reign of terror in 2006:

  • Cut holes in the floor of one tenant’s living room with a power saw–while he was inside his unit.
  • Cut out sections of the floor joists to make the building collapse.
  • Threatened to shoot Ricardo Cartagena, their property manager, after he refused to make the cuts himself.
  • Changed the locks to Cartagena’s apartment, removed all of his belongings and destroyed them.
  • Created fictitious email accounts to appear as a tenant who had filed a civil suit against the Macys–and used these to fire the tenant’s attorney.
  • Cut the tenants’ telephone lines and shut off their electricity, gas and water.
  • Changed the locks on all the apartments without warning.
  • Mailed death threats.
  • Kicked one of their tenants in the ribs.
  • Hired workers to board up a tenant’s windows from the outside while he still lived there.
  • Falsely reported trespassers in a tenant’s apartment, leading police to hold him and a friend at gunpoint.
  • Broke into the units of three tenants and removed all their belongings.
  • Again broke into the units of the same three victims and soaked their beds, clothes and electronics with amonia.

The Macys were arrested in April, 2008, posted a combined total of $500,000 bail and then fled the country after being indicted in early 2009.

In May, 2012, Italian police arrested and deported them back to America a year later.

Having pled guilty, they were sentenced in September, 2013, to a prison term of four years and four months.

How could such a campaign of terror go on for two years against law-abiding San Francisco tenants?

Simple.

Even in the city misnamed as a “renter’s paradise,” slumlords are treated like gods by the very agencies that are supposed to protect tenants against their abuses.

The power of slumlords calls to mind the scene in 1987’s The Untouchables, where Sean Connery’s veteran cop tells Eliot Ness: “Everybody knows where the liquor is. It’s just a question of: Who wants to cross Capone?”  

Everybody in San Francisco knows who the slumlords are. But the District Attorney’s Office hasn’t criminally prosecuted a slumlord in decades. 

Many tenants have lived with rotting floors, bedbugs, nonworking toilets, mice/rats, chipping lead-based paint and other outrages for not simply months but years. 

Consider the situation at the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI), which is charged with ensuring that apartment buildings are in habitable condition.  

Under San Francisco law:

  • A landlord is automatically given 30 days to correct a health/safety violation. If he drags his feet on the matter, the tenant must live with that problem until it’s resolved.
  • If the landlord claims for any reason that he can’t fix the problem within one month, DBI doesn’t demand that he prove this. Instead, it automatically gives him another month.
  • A slumlord has to work at being hit with a fine—by letting a problem go uncorrected for three to six months.
  • And even then, repeat slumlord offenders often avoid the fine by pleading for leniency.
  • That’s because many DBI officials are themselves landlords.

But the situation doesn’t have to remain this way.

How could it be changed?

By learning some valuable lessons from the “war on drugs” and applying them to regulating slumlords.

Consider:

  • At least 400,000 rape kits containing critical DNA evidence that could convict rapists sit untested in labs around the country.
  • But illegal drug kits are automatically rushed to the had of the line.

Why?

It isn’t simply because local/state/Federal lawmen universally believe that illicit drugs pose a deadly threat to the Nation’s security.

It’s because:

  • Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to “facilitate” violations of Federal anti-drug laws.
  • Local and State law enforcement agencies are allowed to keep some of the proceeds once the property has been sold.
  • Thus, financially-strapped police agencies have found that pursuing drug-law crimes is a great way to fill their own coffers.
  • Prosecutors and lawmen view the seizing of drug-related properties as crucial to eliminating the financial clout of drug-dealing operations.

It’s long past time for San Francisco agencies to apply the same attitude–and methods–toward slumlords.  

Related image

DBI should become not merely a law enforcing agency but a revenue-creating one.  And those revenues should come from predatory slumlords who routinely violate the City’s laws protecting tenants.

By doing so, DBI could vastly:

  • Enhance its own prestige and authority;
  • Improve living conditions for thousands of San Francisco renters; and
  • Bring millions of desperately-needed dollars into the City’s cash-strapped coffers.

WHEN WHITES WERE TARGETS: PART FIVE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 18, 2016 at 12:05 am

On April 22, 1974, a break finally came in the “Zebra killers” case.

Anthony Cornelius Harris, a member of the Nation of Islam–otherwise known as the Black Muslims–came forward as a police witness.

Before doing so, he visited the parents of his close friend, Larry Craig Green–who was one of the “Zebra” killers. He hoped that, through Green’s mother, he could persuade his comrade to go with him to the police as a witness against the other three Death Angels.

While at the home of Green’s parents, he called Green.

“I knew right there it was impossible to get him to admit to doing anything,” Harris later testified. “He told me to get the hell out of his house and never to come back.”

Later, Harris phoned the Black Self-Help moving and storage company where he had been working for the last six months.

One of the Muslims he spoke with was Green, who warned him: “Man, they’ve got a contract out to kill you, your wife and the baby.”

It was then that Harris realized that he, his wife, Debra, and their newborn son had been marked for death by his former friends. There was nowhere else to go but the police if he wanted to stay alive.

So, on April 22, 1974, he came forward as a police witness.

Many police believed Harris had been one of the killers himself.  He bore a strong resemblance to the suspect in a police artist’s sketch: A young black man with a short Afro and pointed chin.

Related image

Police composite sketch of “the Zebra killer”

But Harris insisted that he hadn’t murdered anyone, and that he had resisted efforts by his friends to enlist him in their murder spree. He claimed to fear for his life at the hands of his fellow Muslims.

The police immediately placed Harris and his family under round-the-clock guard.

At 5 a.m. on the morning of May 1, 1974, more than 100 police officers assembled at the San Francisco Hall of Justice. They were heavily armed–with shotguns, submachineguns and automatic rifles.

Their assignment: Arrest seven men believed responsible for the brutal series of murders known as the “Zebra” case.

At a given signal, police charged into the various homes and apartments where the suspects lay sleeping.  None of the wanted men offered any resistance.

Three of the seven were soon release for lack of evidence.  The remaining three–Larry Craig Green, Manuel Moore and J.C. Simon–were held at high bond.

A fourth suspect, Jessie Lee Cooks, was already serving a life sentence in prison for his admitted murder of Frances Rose, a physical therapist, on October 30, 1973.

Cooks would be charged with other “Zebra” murders by a San Francisco grand jury on May 16, 1974.

Chief Assistant District Attorney W.H. Guibbini asked for high bail for three of the suspects after their indictment.  Presiding Superior Court Judge Clayton V. Horn raised it to $300,000 each.

The accused killers remained in jail before and during their trial.

The trial began on March 3, 1975, and lasted longer than any previous one in the history of California–376 days. Testimony from 181 witnesses–115 for the prosecution–filled 13,331 pages of trial transcript.

San Francisco Superior Court

The Nation of Islam paid for the legal representation of every one of the defendants except Cooks, who had admitted to murdering Frances Rose. 

During his testimony as a prosecution witness, Harris was guarded constantly by San Francisco police. 

When the SFPD’s resources began to be strained, Harris was placed on the Witness Security Program, operated by the U.S. Marshals Service for the Justice Department. Originally created to safeguard Mafia witnesses, it offers protection, relocation and new identities to those who testify against organized crime groups.  

Related image

Deputy U.S. marshals guarding a witness while testifying before Congress

Harris was flown to Houston, Texas, and kept under the watchful eye of the local police. From there he moved to El Paso, and then on to Las Vegas.

He proved a difficult witness to protect. Refusing to take a job suitable for his menial work skills, he demanded ever-increasing amounts of subsistence money from, first, the SFPD, and, later, the U.S. Marshals Service. At times he threatened to recant his testimony unless he got more subsistence payments.

After the trial, Harris received a portion of the $30,000 reward. Eventually he turned up in Oakland, and then ultimately disappeared.

On March 13, 1976, Larry Craig Green, Manuel Moore, Jessie Lee Cooks and J.C. Simon were convicted of multiple murders. All were sentenced to life in state prison, where they remain today.

The toll of victims taken by the “Zebra” killers had been staggering:

  • Sixteen murdered
  • Five wounded
  • One raped
  • The attempted kidnapping of three children

At the time of sentencing, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Joseph Karesh turned to a wall map showing where each of the murders had taken place.

“As I look at this map and see all these dots,” said Karesh, “I hope we do not forget all these people who have been reduced to dots.”

WHEN WHITES WERE TARGETS: PART FOUR (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 15, 2016 at 12:05 am

The slayings of the “Zebra killers” were always proceeded by elaborate safety precautions. These included disguises, escape routes and the use of safehouses.

“In case you kill someone in that area,” Harris later testified that his Muslim friends were told, “you can automatically go to that house.  There won’t be any questions asked about it at all.

“They made that clear all the time, every Saturday, at the Fruit of Islam (FOI) meetings. The FOI was the enforcement and disciplinary arm of the Nation of Islam.

“They said that if you’re going to kill someone, come right out and say it.  Let us know ahead of time so we can set up a good alibi.”

Recruiting poster for the Fruit of Islam, the elite guard of the Nation of Islam

Non-Muslims were not to be trusted or used in any way.

“Our own attorneys,” the listeners were told at these weekend meetings, “will lie for you,” Harris quoted one of the Muslim speakers as saying.

On the night of January 28, 1974, J.C. Simon, Larry Green and Manuel Moore launched their most spectacular assault on San Francisco whites.

Shots and screams echoed throughout the city as the killers, cruising in a fast-moving black Cadillac, literally turned the streets into a shooting gallery:

  • Tana Smith, a secretary, was slain while waiting at a bus stop.
  • A derelict, John Bambic, was murdered as he rummaged in a garbage can.
  • Vincent Wollin, a pensioner, was walking down the street when one of the gunmen fatally overtook him.
  • A housewife named Jane Holly was killed in a Laundromat while she removed clothes from a dryer.
  • And Roxanne McMillan, another housewife, was critically wounded and left paralyzed from the waist down as she walked down a flight of stairs to her apartment.

Each of these victims had been shot twice in the back by a black gunman using a .32 automatic pistol.

Just hours before the murder spree, Anthony Harris had asked his friend, Larry Green, why their comrade, J.C. Simon, was so depressed and irritable.

“He’s pretty pissed off because he didn’t make lieutenant,” Green had replied. “He didn’t have enough kills on his record.”

The killings continued up to mid-April, 1974.

On April 20, 1974, San Francisco’s liberal mayor, Joseph L. Alioto, authorized a city-wide police dragnet to flush out the still-supposed lone gunman.

Throughout the city, roving squads of specially-assigned officers stopped and questioned over 600 young black men. Those stopped were thought by police to resemble a vague description of the “killer,” as given by witnesses and surviving victims.

Some blacks were stopped so many times they were issued special identification cards to prevent future police interrogations.

The dragnet failed to flush out the Zebra Killers, but it touched off an uproar within the black community. Mayor Alioto was heatedly denounced by civil rights and religious activists.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a suit in federal court for the Northern District of California to halt the stops.

On April 26–six days after the dragnet began–San Francisco’s U.S. District Judge Alfonzo J. Zirpoli acted on the NAACP’s suit.  He declared the stops an unconstitutional violation of blacks’ civil rights.

In the future, ordered Zirpoli, police would need specific information leading them to believe that whoever they stopped had committed a crime or was in the process of doing so.

In San Francisco, the sudden collapse of the citywide police dragnet brought new shivers of panic to an already frightened citizenry.

Many whites stopped going outdoors after dark.  Even police officers frequently looked over their shoulders as evening approached.

Some whites–especially in the heavily Italian North Beach area–began talking about spreading vigilante terror among blacks.

And the murder-spree affected the city financially: The tourist trade–on which San Francisco depended for so much of its revenue–sharply declined.

The reaction of blacks was entirely different.

During the manhunt for the notorious “Zodiac” serial killer in the late 1960s, San Francisco police had relied heavily on dragnets and interrogations of young white men resembling a composite sketch.

But blacks charged racism when the same tactic was used to hunt for the supposed lone “Zebra” gunman. 

Many blacks blamed “unemployment” and “oppression” for the attacks. When interviewed by the San Francisco Examiner, none condemned the murders or expressed sympathy for their victims.

Then, on April 22, 1974, a break finally came in the case. 

Anthony Cornelius Harris decided to tell the police what he knew about the men responsible for the murders.

The killings, said Harris, weren’t the work of a crazed loner. They were being carried out by a group of militant Black Muslims who made use of elaborate security precautions.

Harris’ intimate knowledge of the killers stemmed from their having been among his closest friends for over six months.

Harris claimed that the killers had repeatedly tried to enlist him as an accomplice.  He insisted that he could not bring himself to commit cold-blooded murder. This led his friends to suspect that Harris might be a police informer or agent.

Harris began fearing for his life.  He also wanted the $30,000 reward being offered for the capture of the still-supposed lone gunman.

On May 1, 1974, police–acting on Harris’ information–arrested seven suspects.

WHEN WHITES WERE TARGETS: PART THREE (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 14, 2016 at 12:00 am

The “Zebra killers” were on a rampage–one that showed no signs of ending.

On November 25, 1973, Salem Erakat, a grocer, was found shot in the back of the head in his mom-and-pop market, which lay across the street from the San Francisco Federal Building.

On December 11, a San Francisco resident named Paul Dancik was fatally shot three times as he used a public telephone.

On December 13, Arthur Agnos, a former administrative aide to San Francisco Assemblyman Leo T. McCarthy, was shot and wounded while standing on a street corner, talking to two friends.

He would survive and later serve as Mayor of San Francisco from 1988 to 1992.

On Christmas Eve, Larry Craig Green and J.C. Simon asked Anthony Harris to help them take some packages to a nearby beach.

“When I unloaded the truck, I recall getting a lot of blood on my hands,” Harris later testified as a witness for the prosecution.  He asked Simon and Green what was in the packages.

“They said, it was probably a dog or a cat,” said Harris.  Later, he learned that the package had held a human body.  But he never learned whose.

Harris helped to dispose of similar packages “about 40-some times.”

Harris was taken along by the “Zebra” killers on several shootings.  Later, Harris reasoned: “I guess they thought that, sooner or later, I would join their little clique.”

One night, Harris, J.C. Simon and Manuel Moore parked their black Cadillac near an apartment complex.  Simon and Moore got out, leaving Harris in the vehicle.

“The next thing I knew,” said Harris, “I heard a gunshot.  Manuel started running from the same area that the gunshot came from.”

Moore and Simon jumped into the car.  As the vehicle sped off, Harris saw “what appeared to be a body” lying on the sidewalk.

On another occasion, Harris asked his comrades what had happened after he heard shots ring out.

“Just watch television or listen to the radio, and you’ll see what happened,” one of them said.

Harris learned from the news later on that “somebody had been shot and killed.”

Between killings, Harris and his friends attended regular meetings at the Black Self-Help, the Muslim-owned furniture-moving company in San Francisco.

At some of these meetings, as many as 40 to 50 or more Muslims were present.

Members of the Nation of Islam

“They were talking about killing people,” Harris later testified.  Films were shown “of the Watts riots [in 1965] and different riots taking place throughout the past, black people being beaten down by the police and shot.”

The meetings’ participants were asked, “Could we allow this to continue?  They said the only way to stop it was to act and be vicious…like the police department.

“That you had to…be able to go out and just deliberately take a baby and smash his head against the wall and kill him and, if you have to, even drink the blood to show how vicious you are.

“And they showed us a large number of pictures” on a bulletin board “of a lot of bald-headed men with little white wings on their necks, and identified each guy as being members of the Death Angels.”

Harris was told that “if I wanted to be a member of the Death Angels, that I’d have to go out and kill people to get some wings.”

Not only was the wearing of a pair of white wings a symbol of belonging to the Death Angels, so was a shaved head.

Only certified members of the Death Angels could enter Muslim temples with shaved heads. Anyone else who entered such a temple with a shaved head “can be killed or put out of the temple for coming in like that.”

“[The Death Angels] is supposed to be a pretty high branch of the Nation of Islam, supposed to be 2,000 people inside it,” Harris later testified.

“And every time you kill a person, you’re supposed to have somebody witness your killing the person for verification when you go back to Chicago,” the national headquarters for the Nation of Islam.

Chicago Headquarters of the Nation of Islam

It was there, said Harris, that the photographs or eyewitnesses had to appear before the prospective Death Angel could receive his winged badge of membership.

“And after you get to killing people,” the Death Angels “give you a pair of wings to put on your neck, and they take a picture,” testified Harris.

“They say you kill four children, you automatically become a captain, or a lieutenant.  If you kill five or six women, you become a lieutenant.  Or kill nine men, the number of completion, and they give you a rank.”

Extra status was attached to Death Angels who mutilated the bodies of their victims.

“If you cut their heads off, and cut the legs and arms off and cut them open wide with a lot of blood, it’s supposed to symbolize you’re very vicious and that you could be well trusted.

“The killing was so, if they see you do it, they know for a fact you’re not a police officer and you’re not involved” as an informer,” testified Harris.

WHEN WHITES WERE TARGETS: PART TWO (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 13, 2016 at 12:05 am

In 1971, Anthony C. Harris was arrested for second-degree burglary in Los Angeles. For this, he drew a sentence at San Quentin prison.

That was where he met two of the future “Zebra” killers: Manuel Moore and Jessie Lee Cooks.

After Harris was paroled on October 15, 1973, he drifted into San Francisco. There he made a new friend–Larry Craig Green, who helped him into a job at the Black Self-Help, a Muslim-owned, furniture-moving company in the city.

Yet another new friend he made there was J.C. Simon.

Jessie Cooks, Manuel Moore, J.C. Simon and Larry Craig Green

Soon he was reunited with Jessie Cooks, who had been paroled in July. The release of Manuel Moore followed in November–as did his own arrival in San Francisco.

In September or October, 1973, Harris and 12 to 13 other Muslims–including Simon, Cooks and Green–met at J.C. Simon’s San Francisco apartment.

“They asked me,” Harris later testified, “was I able to kill anyone? Did I have my mind together? They wanted me to work in the [Muslim] temple” as a kung-fu instructor.

At a second meeting at Simon’s apartment, a large, velvet-lined case was prominently displayed. In it were two machetes, three pistols–a snubnose .38 revolver, a .357 Magnum and an automatic–and a shotgun.

“They asked me, how did I feel about white people?  Did I feel they were my enemy?  Was my mind together enough to destroy my enemy?

“And I just told them, ‘I don’t know what you mean by destroying my enemy.’” Harris told the other Muslims that he had no enemies.

“They wanted me to go out and kill some people, to show them I could be trusted among them.  They told me I would have to make some kind of move sooner or later.”

Once again, Harris found himself under cross-examination: Was he ready to take his first step towards joining the elite of Allah, the Death Angels? Was he willing to assist his brethren in destroying the blue-eyed white devils?

To drive the point home, the Muslims showed Harris photographs of his brother, stepbrother, mother, sister and fiancee.

“They told me I knew too much about the organization, and something could happen” to Harris himself and his family unless he joined the group of future killers.

Still, Harris refused to commit himself to the coming plot to slaughter whites.

So his companions decided to enlist him in their cause in one dramatic–and lethal–move.

On the night of October 20, 1973, Americans were glued to their TV sets. President Richard Nixon had just fired Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox and disbanded the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s office.

On that same evening, Harris stood at a bus stop, waiting to be taken home from his job at the Black Self-Help, when a panel truck driven by Larry Green pulled up in the bus zone.

Next to Green, in the passenger’s seat, sat Jessie Lee Cooks. Both men offered Harris a ride home, and he accepted.

The truck drove around for awhile, then parked in the shadows near Powell and Chestnut Streets, in a residential neighborhood.

A few minutes later, the three Muslims spotted a young–and white–married couple, Richard and Quite Hague, strolling nearby.

Hague, 30, worked as a mining engineer for the San Francisco office of Utah International. Quita, 28, was a reporter for the Industrial City Press in South San Francisco. The previous month they had celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.

Cooks stopped the Hagues, asking for directions. Then he shoved a pistol into the back of Richard Hague and forced the couple into the rear of the panel truck.

The Hagues were bound, beaten and driven to a remote spot in the San Francisco industrial district. There they were yanked from the van. Larry Green seized a machete and, with one stroke, nearly decapitated Quita Hague.

“He got blood all over him,” Harris would later testify.

“Larry came over with the knife and said something about, ‘You ought to have seen all the blood gush out of her neck.’”

Green handed the machete to Cooks, who slashed Richard Hague about the face and back of the head. Left for dead, Hague would eventually recover–and testify against his wife’s killers.

Almost immediately after the two Black Muslims finished hacking their victims, flashbulbs began popping. Two other cars, driven by members of the Nation of Islam, had pulled up

Several camera-toting Muslims started taking pictures of the blood-soaked murder scene–as evidence of Larry Green’s and Jessie Lee Cooks’ worthiness as Death Angels.

A series of murders followed.

On October 30–ten days after the abduction of Richard and Quita Hague–Jessie Lee Cooks struck again.

He shot Frances Rose, a physical therapist, four times in the head and neck as she sat in her car at the entrance of the parking lot to the University of California Extension.

Cooks was arrested within a few minutes and only a short distance from the scene, still in possession of the murder weapon, a revolver. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment on December 14, 1974.

He would be tried again and convicted of other murders, along with the other “Zebra” defendants on March 13, 1976.

WHEN WHITES WERE TARGETS: PART ONE (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 12, 2016 at 12:10 am

For many Americans, their country seems on the verge of an all-out racial war.  

Blacks, charging police with brutality and racism, are increasingly strident in demanding an end to both. The events of July 5-7 encapsulate this growing divide between blacks and police.  

On July 5, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was fatally shot several times after being tackled to the ground by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The shooting was captured on video and widely distributed over the Internet.   

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile, also black, was fatally shot by a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer after being pulled over, allegedly for a broken tail light. Castile told the officer he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and had one in the car.

According to his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, a passenger in the car: “The officer said don’t move. As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times.” This shooting was likewise captured on video and widely seen on the Internet.  

On July 7, Michah Xavier Johnson, a black, ex-Army Reserve Afghan War veteran, snot and killed five Dallas, Texas, police officers. Another seven officers and two civilians were wounded before Johnson was killed by police.  

The shootings erupted during a Black Lives Matter march in downtown Dallas to protest the killings of Sterling and Castile.  

The attack on the Dallas officers has led to even greater polarization between blacks and whites–especially white law enforcement officers.  

But this is not the first time that the United States has been threatened with the prospect of an all-out black-verses-white conflict.  

Forty years ago, whites–not blacks–were the targets of blacks intent on waging a race war.

From October 20, 1973 to April 20, 1974, San Francisco was rocked by a series of random, brutal attacks against whites.  The assailant was at first thought to be a lone black gunman.

The toll finally reached 16 murders, five woundings, one rape, and the attempted kidnapping of three children.

The rampage, however, was not limited to San Francisco. Throughout California–from Bakersfield to San Diego–at least 93 other whites were murdered, according to later police investigations.

 

What follows is an inside account of the “Zebra” death cult, as depicted through the grand jury testimony of the star witness against the killers: Anthony C. Harris.

At 28, Harris was a fifth-dan kung-fu expert who always dressed well and spoke softly.  He also had firsthand knowledge of the “Zebra murders.”

Anthony Harris  

Born in Long Beach, California, in 1946, Anthony Cornelius Harris got as far as the sixth grade. He clashed often with police and, on January 3, 1969, he was convicted for assaulting a policeman.

He was released from prison in May, 1970, when he won a reversal of his sentence at the California Supreme Court.

But he was once again arrested and convicted, in 1971, of second-degree burglary in Los Angeles. For this, he drew a sentence at San Quentin prison.

And he also met two of the future “Zebra” killers: Manuel Moore and Jessie Lee Cooks.

Cooks had been convicted of robbery; Moore had been sent to prison for burglary. Both wanted Harris, a fifth-dan kung-fu expert, to teach them the martial arts.

Cooks wanted to learn kung-fu so he could kill whites “because they had castrated and killed our ancestors and stomped our babies’ heads in.”

While an inmate at San Quentin prison, Harris became a devout member of the Nation of Islam.

At that time, the spiritual leader of the Nation was Elijah Muhammad, who preached a gospel of black separatism and superiority.  Muhammad taught that whites were literally the incarnation of evil, a race of “blue-eyed devils.”

Elijah Muhammad NYWTS-2.jpg

Elijah Muhammed

To test the worthiness of His Chosen Black People, proclaimed Muhammad, Allah had allowed their 400-year persecution by these “bleached-out, grafted snakes.”

But that great testing period would soon come to its end. Then would follow the literal, heaven-sent destruction of all whites. At the conclusion of this divine slaughter, Allah would create a paradise earth for His Chosen Black People.  

Harris, Moore and Cooks had a conversation in the temporary Muslim temple in the prison–about “killing people and cutting their heads off–just white people,” Harris later testified in court.

After Harris was paroled on October 15, 1973, he drifted into San Francisco. There he made a new friend–Larry Craig Green, who helped him into a job at the Black Self-Help, a Muslim-owned, furniture-moving company in the city.

Yet another new friend he made there was J.C. Simon.

Soon he was reunited with Jessie Cooks, who had been paroled in July. The release of Manuel Moore followed in November–as did his own arrival in San Francisco.

In September or October, 1973, Harris and 12 to 13 other Muslims–including Simon, Cooks and Green–met at J.C. Simon’s San Francisco apartment.

“They asked me,” Harris later testified, “was I able to kill anyone?  Did I have my mind together?  They wanted me to work in the [Muslim] temple” as a kung-fu instructor.

%d bloggers like this: