By David in TN
Eddie Muller, a film historian known as the "Czar of Noir," is considered the leading expert on the 40's and 50's movies called “film noir.” On Friday nights this June and July, he introduces four films on TCM. Tomorrow (Friday) night, they will be The Narrow Margin, His Kind of Woman, The Locket and Angel Face.
Muller is a life-long resident of San Francisco. In 2006, he reviewed the Earl Sanders and Bennett Cohen book, The Zebra Murders, in the San Francisco Chronicle. Sanders is the former SFPD police chief with a checkered record. Cohen is a Hollywood screenwriter who was hoping (unsuccessfully so far) for the book to be a feature film.
Muller begins by noting in the early 1970's San Francisco was "dangerously close to exploding." He mentions the Panthers, Weathermen, Patty Hearst, etc, and notes "the most shocking crime of the era, oddly enough, is largely forgotten.
He writes, "Nobody wants to remember." And just why is that, Eddie?
Muller acknowledges "Zebra, Clark Howard's far more detailed 1979 book on the subject." The Sanders-Cohen work is different by "the Hollywood-style hook of telling the story through the eyes of two black cops helping to hunt down the killers-while they're bringing a racial discrimination lawsuit against the SFPD." And:
"But for much of its 288 pages, 'The Zebra Murders' unfortunately plays like a formulaic Court TV docudrama, due no doubt to co-author Cohen's screenwriting background." And:
"A cynic might think the book was created to pitch a movie version starring Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx."
Well, a cynic might think that, wouldn't he?
N.S. This guy is terrible. He makes some mild criticisms of Cohen’s style, while lying, in order to make it seem as though Cohen and Sanders were completely right on substance, and to make it look as if blacks—Sanders and his partner, Rotea Gilford—had made some contribution toward solving the case. This is to buttress his and Sanders’ unsupportable assertion that one must hire blacks and other high-crime groups as cops based on racial quotas, in order to have good policing.
No black officers helped at all. It wasn’t Sanders and Gilford who figured that everything was running out of the Nation of Islam’s San Francisco mosque, it was white Homicide Inspector John Fotinos. The case was solved by Fotinos’ partner, Gus Coreris’ gamble of dictating two fake, generic suspect sketches to the SFPD sketch artist, which led to Anthony Cornelius Harris turning himself in, to collect the reward, get a new identity, and whose information and testimony broke the case. Harris was the only witness the prosecution had. Without him, the killers would still be at large, excepting those who have since died.
Black officers played two roles in the case, both disastrous: Rotea Gilford sought to exploit it as an affirmative action scam, to load up the department with unqualified black cops, and SFPD Officer Jesse Byrd, an NOI infiltrator, sought to help the NOI assassins murder Anthony Cornelius Harris, the officers guarding him, and Harris’ lawyer and NOI “wife.” (Harris kept marrying women, without ever divorcing them. This wife was number two or three.) Gus Coreris told the story about Jesse Byrd to Clark Howard during the 1970s, and confirmed it to me in a 2006 interview.
Links to Related Articles
The NOI Ambush Murder of New York City PD Patrolman Philip Cardillo.
Domestic Terrorism: The Nation of Islam and the Zebra Murders
The NOI’s Oklahoma City, OK Murders.