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Zebra - The Hate Crimes We Dare Not Mention

By Lou Calabro
European American Issues Forum
October 2003

The Horror

When John and Beverly Battenberg saw a figure stagger out of the San Francisco night, they thought it was just one more drunk - until they saw that the man’s hands were tied behind his back.

Stopping their car, they were sickened by the horror that confronted them. The disfigured face had been hacked down to the bone. The man’s skull was broken. Strips of flesh hung from his face. Despite his wounds, the man muttered at the stunned couple, trying desperately to convey a message. The Battenbergs bundled him into their car and took him to a nearby police station, since they didn’t know where the closest hospital was located.

Richard Hague had been rescued. A broken and scarred man, he had at least survived the gruesome attack. His wife was not so lucky.

When the police found Quita Hague’s body, it was lying across a railroad track. Her head was twisted at an impossible angle and almost severed from her body. The drying blood on her face, hair and torso was silent testimony to the violence which had taken her life. Like her husband, Quita’s hands were tied behind her back.

It was October 20, 1973. San Francisco had 179 days of terror to go in what history would know as the “Zebra Murders.”

In the months to come, there would be a total of 23 attacks in the San Francisco area, resulting in 15 deaths. But these murders, horrific as they were, were only a small part of the bigger picture; police eventually tied a total of 71 killings around California to the events in San Francisco.

All the victims were white, “blue eyed devils” murdered for the simple fact of their race. The killers were members of a splinter of the Black Muslims known as the Death Angels. To earn Death Angel wings, followers had to kill nine white men, or five white women, or four white children - or a combination thereof.

Four men were eventually brought to trial for the murder of three of the victims and were sentenced to life imprisonment. From time to time, their cases come up for parole.

Unfinished Business

According to Clark Howard’s definitive Zebra (Berkeley Books, 1980), about 15 Death Angels had earned their “wings” by October of 1973. This implies that at least 135 men, or 75 women, or 60 children had been murdered by that time - and this was before the beginning of the official Zebra Murders. Law enforcement agencies tentatively tied 71 killings to the cult, but based on the figure of 15 Death Angels, even this figure is probably low. What about aspiring Death Angels that only killed part of their quota and had not been awarded full status? The number of men, women, and children murdered by this racist cult may have been much larger than anyone has yet estimated.

For this genocidal crime wave, only four men were tried. But how many Death Angels were there? Fifteen? Twenty? Fifty? Only four men went to jail, and only three murders - out of what may have been scores - were accounted for.

In other words, most of the Zebra killers are still out there somewhere, free.

They’re not only free in the sense of not being in prison, they’re free in that no attempt is being made to discover and apprehend them.

You see, the Zebra case has been declared closed. Never mind that only a few of the murders were solved (A tenth? A twentieth?)…Never mind that almost all the killers are still on the streets…Never mind that the statute of limitations on murder cases never runs out.

Why is this case closed, when other unsolved murders routinely remain open as a matter of procedure? One can only guess.

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