I’ve been reading a couple of books: Tamar Jacoby’s Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle For Integration and Clark Howard’s Zebra :The True Account of the 179 Days of Terror in San Francisco.
The former is a book that documents the absolute failures of the post-Civil Rights movement, and yet the thesis of the book is that we must work even harder to bring about full integration (despite the quadrillions of dollars – in both real capital and opportunity costs – wasted in the process).
The latter deals with the Black Muslim war on white people (the infamous Zebra killings that happened in San Francisco — and throughout California – in the early 1970s, where Black Muslims attempted to earn their “Death Angel” status by killing white women, men, and children).
Jacoby’s book touches upon the Atlanta Child Murders of the early 1980s (one of the more sensational moments in American history), where Black children were being abducted and turning up dead. Turns out, a Black man named Wayne Williams was committing the murders — a Black serial killer of Black children.
The media hysteria over this event — the New York Times devoted daily coverage to the story, while Black and white entertainers and elected officials alike united, promising every resource to bring the serial killer to justice — was only rivaled by the OJ Simpson case almost a score later.
The Zebra killings? The news of this event was confined largely to San Francisco and the state of California.
It is on p.375 of Jacoby’s defense of the failure of the Civil Right’s movement legacy (if we keep clapping our hands, it might work out!) that we learn this:
By the time police zeroed in on black suspect Wayne Williams in June 1981, it has been the nation’s biggest and most sophisticated homicide manhunt. The clues that led to Williams were anything but vague: he was stopped for questioning just moments after he threw the boy of his last victim into the Chattahoochee River. But even William’s trial – and his conviction by a largely black jury – had little effect on the deepest levels of black paranoia. Once it turned out that the suspect was not white, black interest in the case visibly plummeted. Journalists covering the trial filled their stories with praise for the city’s racial calm, but wondered among themselves why so few blacks seemed interested in attending. The south side parents’ group maintained throughout the trial that the “fat boy” mayor [the corpulent Maynard Jackson] and his white supporters were using Williams as a scapegoat, covering up for the real, white killer. Instead of rejoicing at the cessation of the murders – and the did stop the day Williams was apprehended – many blacks across the country seemed angry or defeated. “They win,” one Atlantan told James Baldwin, meaning whites. “They got us.”
A reporter who visited south side housing projects on the day of the verdict could find almost no on e who felt that justice had been done, not even on a block that had lost three children. “I don’t believe he’s guilty,” said the sister of one victim.”
It should be known that south Atlanta (South Fulton County) is almost 95 percent Black, and relies on the redistribution of wealth from largely white tax payers in North Fulton County to, well, subsist.
After 179 days, and 23 victims, the police in San Francisco finally decided to get tough. It was known that the people committing the murders (15 whites were dead, eight seriously injured) were Black. Mayor Joseph Alito said, “Police will begin stopping large numbers of black citizens throughout the city for questioning in the search for a suspect in the wave of random street killings… we are going to be stopping people who resemble these sketches and descriptions – which means we’re going to be stopping a lot people.”
The ACLU, NAACP, and other progressive groups protested, as the NAACP sought an injunction with the courts to stop this police tactic because it threatened “constitutional guarantees of personal freedom.”
But is on p. 345 of Howard’s book that we learn this (after five days of the crackdown):
By the weekend, more than five hundred young black men had been stopped and searched by the Zebra units partolling (sic) the streets of San Francisco at night. The operation had turned up no leads to the Zebra killer – but it had reduced major crimes in the city by nearly a third. Major crimes – homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny over fifty dollars, and auto theft – had been cut back 30.7 percent. Because of saturation by police officers in the large areas considered primary Zebra operation sectors, which comprised some five hundred city blocks, many crimes which might have been committed, were not.
Despite the drop in the general crime index, however, the stop-and-search operation was continuing to generate criticism and protests throughout the city. The NAACP suit filed in federal court… Dr. Carlton Goodlett, publisher of the small Sun Reporter newspaper, said that Mayor Alioto had begun a “drive against the black people of the community.”
Never mind that major crime was dropping (most of which was perpetrated by Blacks, who preyed upon the Black community) in San Francisco; Never mind that Black people had their children targeted by a Black serial killer, which didn’t fit their preconceived notions of justice in the case of Wayne Williams.
The lessons from these two anecdotes are, moving forward, important to consider.
You want to stop crime in America? Create a police state that profiles and targets Black people – law abiding or not.
More importantly, despite all evidence to the contrary, Black people will always defend Black people, even if it is a Black person who preyed upon the Black community — killing their sons and daughters.
Happy Memorial Day!