02 / May
02 / May
The Zebra Killings (and Why PC Profs Don't Want You To Know About Them)

Jonathan Bean, a professor of history at Southern Illinois University, is on the hot seat for listing an article from Frontpagemag.com as an optional reading in his class. The article details the story of the Zebra killings, in which a group of racist blacks slayed random white people in the early 1970s. Several of Professor Bean's colleagues took to the student newspaper to denounce him in a letter and an advertisement. The dean of the SIU College of Liberal Arts cancelled Bean's discussion sessions, instructed his teaching assistants that they needn't continue assisting him, and sent a letter reprimanding the professor for not understanding the "parameters of discussion." "I had two direct ancestors hung as witches at Salem," Bean told SIU's student paper. "I don't plan to be the third."

The academics trying to muffle Professor Bean have instead handed him a megaphone. They certainly have piqued interest in the decades-old murder case. And why not? Estimates range from fourteen to seventy-one lives taken in the racially-motivated murders, and we're not supposed to talk about them?

The Zebra Killings terrorized the Bay Area in the mid-1970s. James Lubinskas, the controversial author of the offending article, described the grisly nature of the crimes: "Vincent Wollin was shot in the back and killed on his 69th birthday. Mildred Hosler, an obese, older woman was shot while frantically trying to get away from her younger, faster attacker. Ilario Bertucci, a 135-pound, 81-year-old man, was killed while walking home from work. Marietta DiGirolamo, a 51" white woman was shot and killed on her way to a neighborhood bar. In none of these cases did the victims do anything to provoke the murderers. They simply had white skin and were in the wrong place at the wrong time."

When descriptions of the murderers surfaced, and it became clear that young black men were targeting whites, the San Francisco Police Department began interrogating black men that fit the profile. The SFPD's use of racial profiling ran afoul of the California's courts, and the police were ordered to cease and desist. Another police tactic, a $30,000 reward, proved more successful. A man working for a group called Black Self Help Moving and Storage, Anthony Harris, turned in his co-workers for the reward. Several of the murderers turned out to be Nation of Islam members who believed that killing white people would ensure them a spot in heaven. The group called themselves the Death Angels and devised a game that awarded points for killing whites. Ultimately, four men were convicted of murder in the Zebra Killing case, and are now serving life sentences.

If villains and victims switched places (i.e., races), would talking about this case cause such a fuss?

posted at 12:16 AM

If this were included in local histories, maybe naive liberals and radicals wouldn't flock here in such numbers.

Posted by: Jeremiah on May 2, 2005 03:03 PM

Re: that article on antiwar.com -- Are you kidding me? Does that man actually believe there are stronger ties to Nazism and white supremacism on the neoconservative side? That is simply a lie. A cursory examination of the links on this entry tells a much more different story.

Posted by: Ben Litchman on May 5, 2005 12:02 PM

Make that *much different*.

"much more different"? I'm a retard.

Posted by: Ben Litchman on May 6, 2005 12:09 AM

DR. Bean was my history proffesor for hist 110 in the spring of 2002. He is probable one of the best instructors I have had and one of the fairest in the entire school. His teaching methods have earned him teacher of the year awards and earned my respect as an educator. To be honest I only remember a few of my instructors names and for me to remember a history proffesors name when my major is mechanical engineering must account for how impressive his class was. Just thought I would express how much he means to the academic community even if they don't know it

Posted by: jeremy VonLanken on May 9, 2005 03:52 AM

Another great article - http://hnn.us/roundup/comments/11562.html

I will be contacting these pathetic excuses of professors to know what I think of them.

Posted by: Scott on June 21, 2005 07:31 PM

Can someone tell me why this proffesor was put in the hot seat? My uncle was one of the many victims in these killings and I think it is a good thing that a proffesor is reconizing and exploring these horrible crimes. I can't for the life of me figure out why this is such an unknown case of serial killings. Does anyone know why?

Posted by: Alison O'Brien on September 23, 2005 04:20 PM
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