In part one of this series I briefly examined the rather curious state of affairs in San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Beyond the psychedelic landscape of Haight-Ashbury that is so firmly engraved upon the popular conscience we found as cesspool of the most notorious figures to emerge from the hippie era and the years immediately following it. These figures included such gangs, cults and radical groups as the Hell's Angels, the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, Symbionese Liberation Army, the Weather Underground, the Church of Satan, Jim Jones's Peoples Temple, the Process Church of Final Judgement; in addition to several notorious serial killers such as Charles Manson (who began assembling the Family in San Fran before uprooting it to L.A. due to the 'bad vibes' of the Haight) and the Zodiac Killer, among others. As regular readers of this blog know, when the specter of serial killers, radical outfits, and cults is cast upon a community or region of the world, chances are the U.S. Intelligence community is also lurking somewhere in the shadows nearby.
San Francisco is no exception, and was in fact a major hotbed for MK-ULTRA by the 1960s. For over a decade before the Summer of Love the CIA had been conducting psychological warfare experiments there. And incidentally, many of these experiments revolved around LSD.
"San Francisco was a hotbed of MK-ULTRA activity in the 1960s, incorporating everything from drugs to hypnosis and, later, to paranormal and occult research. In 1955, MK-ULTRA operator George White )who worked for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and not directly for the CIA, and thus had 'plausible deniablity') had moved to San Francisco from New York City, where he had run a 'safehouse' that was used to test the effects of various drugs on prostitutes and their clients via two-way mirrors and the like. He set up an identical operation on Telegraph Hill, and wired it for sound, bringing in hookers, their johns, and eventually a whole assortment of local characters, both underworld and 'civilian.' George White's operation in San Francisco went on until the summer of 1963..."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pg. 317)
Levenda doesn't quite do White's operation, dubbed 'Midnight Climax,' (seriously) justice.
"In 1955 White was transferred to San Francisco, where two more safehouses were established. During this period he initiated Operation Midnight Climax, in which drug-addicted prostitutes were hired to pick up men from local bars and bring them back to a CIA-financed bordello. Unknowing customers were treated to drinks laced with LSD while White sat on a portable toilet behind a two-way mirror, sipping martinis and watching every stoned and kinky moment. As payment for their services the hookers received $100 a night, plus a guarantee from White that he'd intercede on their behalf should they be arrested while playing their trade. In addition to providing data about LSD, Midnight Climax enabled the CIA to learn about the sexual proclivities of those who passed through the safehouses. White's harem of prostitutes became the focal point of an extensive CIA study of how to exploit the art of lovemaking for espionage purposes."George White and his safehouses were not the only LSD experiments happening in San Francisco at this time. Stanford University and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, both located in the Bay area, were also running their own tests. Stanford would 'turn on' such 60s icons as Allen Ginsberg and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter (who would in turn introduce the rest of the Dead to LSD) while the Palo Alto VA hospital would do the same for Ken Kesey in 1960. Five years later Kesey would return to the Bay area to conduct his own Acid Tests. So yes, the CIA had a rather substantial role in creating the psychedelic culture that would blossom in San Francisco in the mid-60s. Whether they truly intended to create the psychedelic era or whether it was merely a case of 'colleteral damage' will probably never be known, but the Company soon realized that it had a problem on its hands. By the late 1960s the American Intelligence services and a whole slew of other agencies were in a full on war with the budding hippie movement.
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain)
"The use of informants and provocateurs was part of a massive sub rosa campaign to subvert the forces of dissent in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Joining the FBI in this effort was an alphabet soup of federal agencies: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), the intelligence division of all military services, and numerous local police forces. Over a quarter of a million Americans were under 'active surveillance' during this period, and dossiers were kept on the lawful political activities and personal lives of millions more. Those affiliated with black militant, antiwar, and New Left groups were prime targets of dirty tricks and other underhanded tactics designed to stir up factionalism and 'neutralize' political activists.
"During the Nixon presidency the CIA stepped up its domestic operations even though such activity was outlawed by the Agency's charter. In 1969 the CIA prepared a report entitled 'Restless Youth,' which concluded that the New Left and black nationalist movements were essentially homegrown phenomena and that foreign ties to American dissidents were insubstantial. That was not what President Nixon wanted to hear. The 'Communist Conspiracy' had become an idee fixe in the White House, and Nixon pressed CIA director Richard Helms to expand the parameters of Operation CHAOS... and other domestic probes. In addition to monitoring a wide range of liberal and left-wing organizations, the CIA provided training, technical assistance, exotic equipment, and intelligence data to local police departments. The Agency also employed harassment tactics such as sprinkling 'itching powder'... on public toilets near leftist meetings, which drove people wild for about three days after they sat down."
(ibid, pgs. 224-225)
|Riots broke out at the 1968 Democratic National Convention where one in six protestors were in fact an undercover law enforcement officers|
Naturally, San Francisco would continue to play a major role in these activities. It was in 1967, in the midst of the Summer of Love, that a lot of strange drugs, many of them substances the US Army and CIA had been experimenting with for the Cold War, began appearing mysteriously in the Haight.
"STP... was developed in 1964 by an experimental chemist working for the Dow Chemical Company, which provided samples of the drug to Edgewood Arsenal, headquarters of the US Army Chemical Corps. Scientists at Edgewood tested STP (which was similar to BZ) to see if it could be used as an incapacitating agent, while the CIA utilized the drug in its behavior modification studies. In early 1967, for some inexplicable reason, the formula for STP was released to the scientific community at large. By this time ergotamine tartrate, an essential raw ingredient of LSD, was in short supply, so Owsley, the premier acid chemist, decided to try his hand at STP. Shortly thereafter the drug was circulating in the hippie districts of San Francisco and New York...
"STP was just one of the bizarre drugs that were pumped into the willing arteries of the acid ghetto. According to doctors who worked at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, there was a rash of adverse reactions when a compound purporting to be THC (a synthetic version of marijuana) inundated the Haight. The drug was actually phencyclidine, or PCP -otherwise known as 'angel dust' -which had originally been marketed as an animal tranquilizer by Parke-Davis. But the army had other ideas when it tested PCP on American GIs at Edgewood Arsenal in the late 1950s. At the same time the CIA employed Dr. Ewen Cameron to administer PCP to psychiatric patients at the Allain Memorial Institute in Montreal under the rubric of Operation MK-ULTRA. The Agency later stockpiled PCP for use as a 'nonlethal incapacitate,' although high dosages, according to the CIA's own report, could 'lead to convulsions and death.'"
|STP (top), a BZ-like substance also known as DOM, and PCP (bottom), alias angel dust|
Once 'Bear' Owsley was busted in 1967 and began moving out of the LSD racket, the CIA was more than happy to help other budding chemists set up shop at the Haight.
"According to a former CIA contract employee, Agency personnel helped underground chemists set up LSD laboratories in the Bay Area during the Summer of Love to 'monitor' events in the acid ghetto. But why, if this assertion is true, would the CIA be interested in keeping tabs on the hippie population? Law enforcement is not a plausible explanation, for there were already enough narcs operating in the Haight. Then what was the motive? A CIA agent who claims to have infiltrated the covert LSD network provided a clue when he referred to Haight-Ashbury as a 'human guinea pig farm.'"And what a human guinea pig farm it was, with its freaks, dropouts, informants, provocateurs, dope, radical groups, cults, serial killers, and spooks. It was a place where such individuals as Charles Manson, Jim Jones, the Zodiac Killer, the DeGrimstons, 'Bear' Owsley, Allen Ginsberg, Anton LeVay, Timothy Leary, Hunter Thompson, Ken Kesey, and members of such legendary rock outfits as Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane and a whole slew of other interesting folks would pass through in less than a decade, if not take up residency therein. And it all happened at a time when domestic operations of various US Intelligence outfits were running on all cylinders. The CIA especially had a lot invested in the Bay area. Was this all coincidence? Highly unlikely. I've already chronicled the likely CIA involvement in the sagas of Charles Manson (here and here) and Jim Jones (here and here) before and new readers are advised to check out those pieces if they find this one compelling. But let us move on to the topic at hand.
Many fine researchers such Martin A Lee, David McGowan, and the invaluable Peter Levenda, have all published outstanding accounts of San Francisco in the period examined in this blog and have linked many of the after mentioned personalities and outfits. More controversial conspiracy researchers such as Michael A. Hoffman and Alex Constantine have also added their own unique theories concerning hippie era San Fran. Yet there is one group that is curiously absent in all the accounts I've read from the above authors, despite the fact that they were big news in San Francisco in the early 1970s and shared characteristics of a radical group, a cult, and of serial killers all at once.
I am of course referring to the .32 Caliber Murderers, more commonly known as the Zebra Killers. They were alleged to be a radical secret society operating out of the Nation of Islam known as the Death Angels. They would instigate a spree of murders around San Francisco lasting from October 1973 until they were finally apprehended of May 1, 1974 (the date of one of the major occult holidays in European paganism, Beltane). They would leave at least 15 people dead and another eight to ten seriously wounded, including Art Agnos, the future mayor of San Francisco. Eventually four people would be charged with the murders, leading to the longest criminal trial in California history, and featuring 181 witnesses and 3.5 million words of testimony. Several other men were suspected of being members of the Death Angels, but were eventually released from lack of evidence. One of them was a Nation of Islam member named Dwight Stallings who had known SFPD homicide inspector Rotea Gilford, one of the detectives working Zebra, for most of his life.
Like many of the after mentioned groups and individuals mentioned in part one, the Death Angels were obsessed with race war and almost exclusively targeted whites. They would spread such terror in the city that full scale martial law tactics were instigated that almost solely targeted blacks. And most curious of all, they have been almost entirely forgotten in the sands of history, even by many noted revisionist historians. We shall thoroughly examine their strange and savage journey in the remainder of this series, as well as their possible ties with some of the after mentioned groups and individuals. So, let us begin.
One of the chief problems one encounters when researching Zebra right off the bat is the lack of quality sources. Despite the sensationalism of the crimes and the time frame that they occurred in only two books to date have been written on Zebra. One, written by Clark Howard, was published in 1979 and is simply called Zebra. It can be read online here.
Howard's book is a true crime novel based upon trial transcripts, interviews with those involved, and other sources. This presents two problems: As the book is written like a crime novel and not a historical work, it's pretty bare bones, largely sticking to the basics such as the killings and the police investigation. What's more, Howard takes the Death's Angel narrative at face value and constructs the entire killing spree around it. He never questions whether the Death Angels in fact existed (highly debatable) or whether some other group was involved.
The other book on Zebra is called The Zebra Murders: A Season of Killing, Racial Madness, and Civil Rights and is by Prentice Earl Sanders and Bennett Cohen. Sanders is a former Chief of Police of San Francisco and worked the Zebra murders in the 1970s with his partner, the after mentioned Rotea Gillord. Sanders is an interesting figure, to say the least. As Sanders never ceases to remind the reader throughout Zebra Murders, he was instrumental in the 1973 Officers for Justice discrimination lawsuit against the SFPD. This in fact probably takes up as much space in Sanders' book as the actual Zebra killings.
Sanders was only Chief of Police of San Francisco for 14 months until he was forced to resign under dubious circumstances. This revolved around an incident dubbed 'Fajitagate,' where Sanders allegedly helped cover up an assault on two civilians committed by three off duty police officers, one of whom was the son of his assistant-Chief, Alex Fagan (who briefly became Chief himself upon Sanders' resignation). He was later accused of withholding evidence in a 1989 case that led to two innocent men being imprisoned for 13 years. San Francisco Weekly reports:
"In 1989, Sanders and Hendrix arrested and later helped convict two young black men, John "J.J." Tennison and Antoine "Soda Pop" Goff, in a gang slaying. The two men said they were innocent and had been framed by Sanders and his partner. After they spent more than 13 years in prison, a federal judge freed Tennison and Goff, concluding that Sanders and Hendrix engaged in misconduct by, among other things, withholding evidence that another man confessed to the killing."Controversy also surrounded Sanders' book on various fronts. He was accused of greatly embellishing his role in the investigation, of greatly over-exaggerating the racism in the San Francisco Police Department at the time, and, most disturbing off all, of taking the case files of the Zebra killings with him upon his resignation from the police force. Continuing with the San Francisco Weekly piece:
"After being appointed chief in July 2002, Sanders had eight boxes of materials related to the Zebra killings removed from police archives and brought to his office in the Hall of Justice. The boxes constituted an untapped treasure. They contained material the cops had assembled about the murders but that the district attorney's office did not require in prosecuting the three Zebra killers it brought to trial, including material related to several suspects who were never charged for lack of evidence...
"During his hectic first months as chief there wasn't time, he says. In November 2002, as he and Cohen were preparing to dig into the boxes, the Fajitagate scandal erupted. Upon his retirement in September 2003 (at which point, due to the medical leave, he hadn't been to the office in six months) the SFPD packed up Sanders' personal effects and shipped them to his home in Folsom.
"Mistakenly included among those belongings was one of the Zebra boxes. To his surprise, its contents included the handwritten and dictated confessions of Zebra informant Anthony Harris and previously undisclosed details about the killers' plans the day before five of the victims were murdered in a single night.
"Detractors have taken issue with Sanders' use of these long-forgotten police files after his retirement. Calabro, the ex-cop, who worked the Zebra cases during his career, acknowledges having petitioned Police Chief Heather Fong to investigate whether Sanders broke any laws. (He says he also sent missives to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, and District Attorney Kamala Harris.) Fong didn't respond to interview requests for this article."
That the San Francisco PD would have so little interest in recovering their case files is most curious when one considers that one of the Zebra suspects is still under surveillance by the F.B.I. But then again, police incompetence and/or corrupt is something of a reoccurring theme in many of these types of cases, as regular readers of this blog well know.
On the flip side of the coin, Sanders' usurper of the Zebra case files may have been a cynical ploy to sell more copies of his book, which apparently he hoped to turn into an action movie. Consider the credentials and objectives of his co-author, Bennett Cohen. From the same San Francisco Weekly article:
"Sanders' involvement with the book came about as the result of an unsolicited phone call from Cohen in 2002 while he was assistant chief of police. As a Los Angeles scriptwriter and occasional producer, Cohen was looking for a true-crime story to pitch as a feature film. He contacted Sanders on a hunch after recalling the Zebra killings, which had occurred when Cohen was a young UC Berkeley drama student.
"Cohen says that almost everything he had read about the murders suggested that there were no black detectives involved in solving the cases, something he thought to be odd considering the black-on-white nature of the crimes. An Internet search turned up the names of Sanders and Gilford...
"But Sanders wasn't a writer. Then, just as it seemed he would never get his chance to 'set the record straight,' he got the call from Cohen out of the blue. In Cohen, who had set out looking for an African-American protagonist for a movie project, Sanders found the perfect writing partner. In Sanders, Cohen discovered a legendary black cop with a great back story."
|Sanders & Cohen|
Certainly, this doesn't help the perception that Sanders embellished his role in the Zebra investigation. The article goes on to state that The Zebra Murders had already been optioned by Plan B, a production company founded by actor Brad Pitt, with Jamie Foxx and Will Smith in talks to portray Sanders and Gilford in the film version. Apparently things are still stuck in pre-production.
Regardless of whether Sanders was simply looking to cash in, to cover up something, or was simply incompetent, he does not come off as the most reliable source. That being said, his book does do a nice job of putting the Zebra killings in historical context. Outfits like the Black Liberation Army, the SLA, the Weather Underground, as well as serial killers like Manson, Edmund Kemper, and Herbert Mullin, are all given their due. He even addressed some of the black opts the FBI and CIA were running in that nation at the time. On the flip side of the coin, Sanders is quick to poo poo any notion of a broader conspiracy once he brings the topic up.
In a way The Zebra Murders reminds me a lot of The Franklin Cover-Up, written by former Nebraska congressman and CIA asset John DeCamp. Both books provide invaluable information on their respective topics, but one can't help but feel both authors are trying to distract the readers attention by playing up the more sensation aspects of the respective incidents. With Franklin, it was the allegations for Satanism. I've covered Franklin, as well as related incidents such as the Finders, before here and here, and while I found compelling evidence of an international child sex trafficking ring and trauma-based mind control, I did not find much evidence of actual 'Satanism' (a label used by many right-wing conspiracy researcher on virtually anything that fall under the occult). In Zebra, it is Sanders obsession with racism, which leads him to portray the Zebra killers simply as isolated nuts driven crazy by the prejudices of the United States.
So, as I was saying, reliable sources for the Zebra killings are in short supply. The Internet is not much better. Typically when the Zebra killings are addressed in the blogosphere, it is usually by the neo-con faction which sees the murders as an early example of Islamic terrorism and 'Islamo-fascism.' But as previously stated, the alleged murderers did not belong to a mainstream denomination of Islam, but rather to the Nation of Islam. To describe the Nation as highly controversial would be a gross understatement. The highly-suspect Southern Poverty Law Center (which considers virtually any kind of anti-government outfit a hate organization), which considers the NOI to be a hate group, describes the Nation as such:
"For what would become one of the largest and best-organized groups in the history of black America, the Nation of Islam (NOI) had a relatively obscure beginning. Founded by a mysterious clothing salesman in the ghettoes of Detroit in 1930, NOI was considered an insignificant, if highly media-worthy, 'voodoo sect' throughout much of the 1930s and 1940s.
"Founder Wallace D. Fard (alternately, Farad Muhammad) and his 'messenger' and successor Elijah Muhammad preached a hybrid creed with its own myths and doctrines. These held that over 6,000 years ago, the black race lived in a paradise on earth that was destroyed by the evil wizard Yacub, who created the white 'devil' through a scientific process called 'grafting.' Fard and his disciple preached of a coming apocalyptic overthrow of white domination, insisting that the dominion of evil was to end with God's appearance on earth in the person of Fard. Following this, NOI predicts an epic struggle in which the Nation of Islam will play a key role in preparing and educating the Original People, who ruled the earth in peace and prosperity until Yacub's 'blue-eyed devils' came along to gum things up. The Nation of Islam teaches that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited. This is point 10 of the official platform, "What the Muslims Want" published 1965...
"NOI's efforts are tainted, however, by a long history of racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric that escalated dramatically with Farrakhan's coup. Even prior to Farrakhan, NOI's characterization of whites as 'devils' was unwavering. The seeds of anti-Semitism were deeply rooted in the organization, with Elijah Muhammad preaching early on about greedy Jews who turned Jesus Christ in to the authorities. Even during the early days of the civil rights movement, a period of collaboration between progressive Jews and blacks, Malcolm X had denounced Jews in the leadership of the NAACP and linked their presence there to the group's non-militant stance.
"During the early 1980s, the deeply bigoted language for which NOI is infamous for today became daily fare, exacerbated by the charged atmosphere surrounding Jesse Jackson's 1984 presidential bid. Farrakhan made several of his most infamous remarks during the campaign, including calling Hitler 'a very great man' and Judaism a 'dirty religion' (some say he actually termed it a 'gutter religion'). While these and other remarks ultimately spurred Jackson to publicly disavow Farrakhan, the controversy actually increased the NOI leader's visibility and appeal to many African Americans angered at the attacks on him."
"...the Christian Identity movement, which claims that the US Government is being run by Jews, and that Jews are the sons of Satan and must be exterminated; in this tortuous theory (eerily familiar to students of Nazi ideology), the 'real' Lost Tribes of Israel are the Aryans and the Jews are merely descendants of Cain... The Lord of the Jews thus becomes Satan, even though they may secretly believe that their own god is a white warrior-demon, a light-bearing spirit known as Lucifer... The Christian Identity movement is itself probably an attempt to create a 'white' fundamentalist Christianity as distinct from the 'black' Southern Baptist and Pentecostal denominations. By putting a different spin on the Old Testament and the Chosen People, the Christian Identity 'ministers' hope to exclude not only Jews from the New World Order, but also all other races, with their unevolved, 'polluted' form of Christianity."Essentially, both the Nation and the Christian Identity movement sees their respective races as the 'Chosen People.' They both see a great struggle coming to the United States, one which will probably include a race war, and they see themselves as destined to survive this war. In the aftermath, either the Nation or the Christian Identity movement will establish a utopia, free of the pollution of their lessors, and everyone that survives (and is of the proper race and religion) will live happily ever after. That's the theory, anyway.
(Unholy Alliance, Peter Levenda, pgs. 349-350)
In my brief review of the cardinal beliefs of the Nation, I couldn't help but be struck by the similarities between the NOI's theology and the theories of Zecharia Sitchin concerning Sumerian creation myths and the Anunnaki, which essentially held that the human race was genetically engineered by extraterrestrial scientists. To a lesser extent, one can also find hints of Robert K.G. Temple's 'Sirius' theory, which also purposes an extraterrestrial origin for the human race with a special emphasis on occult traditions out of Africa. I've written much more on the vast significance of Sirius before here and here.
NOI members are big believers in the extraterrestrial hypothesis with current leader Louis Farrakhan (who many conspiracy sites claim is a Freemason even though I have found nothing to document this) claiming to have been taken onboad a flying saucer. In fact, proving the existence of extraterrestrials has been something of preoccupation of the Nation lately. The ever dubious Fox news reports:
"The Nation of Islam, long known for its promotion of black nationalism and self-reliance, now is calling attention to another core belief that perhaps isn't so well-known: the existence of UFOs.
"When thousands of followers gather in suburban Chicago this weekend for the group's annual Saviours' Day convention, one of the main events will include a panel of scientists discussing worldwide UFO sightings, which they claim are on the rise.
"The idea of seeking the divine in the skies is deeply rooted in the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, whose late leader Elijah Muhammad detailed in speeches and writings a massive hovering object loaded with weapons he called The Mother Plane' -- although religion experts, Nation of Islam leaders and believers offer very different interpretations of what exactly happens aboard the plane, its role or how it fits into religious teachings."
|the Nation's beliefs in extraterrestrials would have an influence on black culture that would turn up in unexpected ways|
Even if claims that the current leader of the Nation being a high ranking Freemason are bogus, there is little doubt about the Masonic origins of the Nation.
"The Moorish Temple was a progenitor of what would become the Nation of Islam; a West Coast mystic who called himself Hakin Bey revived the Temple and made it a catch-all for occultists, magicians, Christian mystics, Islamic mystics, homosexual mystics, and assorted counter-culture types."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pg. 280)
The Moorish Temple Levenda refers to is the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded by an individual known as Timothy Drew in 1913. Nation of Islam founder Wallace Fard Muhammad was allegedly a member in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The Nation itself hotly contests this point, but there is clear overlap in the belief systems of the two outfits. To be fair, Louis Farrakhan has been a vocal critic of Freemasonry of late. Witness these two You Tube videos, which can be found here and here, where Farrakhan 'exposes' the secrets of Freemasonry. Of course, Scientology has been a vocal critic of the US Intelligence community despite the fact their religion was founded by a former Naval Intelligence officer as well.
The founding is but the first of many controversies surrounding the Nation. By the time the 1970s rolled around the NOI was riddled with them. Of course there was the assassination of Malcolm X, the most well-known member of the Nation next to boxer Muhammad Ali, which was officially committed by Nation members after X had broken with the NOI (of course, there are ample conspiracy theories surrounding X's death, some of which will be examined later). There was also the Nation's stance against the Vietnam War, which led many members to refuse to serve in the U.S. armed forces, of which Muhammad Ali was the most famous. Even more sinister, there were rumors that the Nation, with its paramilitary-wing known as the Fruit of Islam, was bracing for, and possibly even planning, a war against white America. The Zebra killings that begun in 1973 would only add to this suspicion.
|Malcolm X (top) and Muhammad Ali (bottom)|
And it is here that I shall ends things for the time being. In the next installment of this series we shall consider the notorious secret society known as the Death Angels and their relation to the Nation of Islam. We shall also consider the forces working inside the Nation itself. Stay tuned.