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Opinion The Tragedy of Yusuf Hawkins: A Black Teenager Slaughtered by a White Mob in 1980s Brooklyn

05:50  13 august  2020
05:50  13 august  2020 Source:   thedailybeast.com

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Yusef Kirriem Hawkins (also spelled as Yusuf Hawkins , March 19, 1973 – August 23, 1989) was a 16-year-old black teenager from East New York, Brooklyn who was shot to death on August 23, 1989, in Bensonhurst

When Hawkins and three pals encountered a mob who mistakenly thought they were there for a fight, Bensonhurst was an insular, predominantly white bastion. Al Sharpton led demonstrations after Yusuf Hawkins ’ murder. You chase a black kid you see and then shoot him. What do you call that?”

Can the victims of hate crimes, or their families, ever see justice under our system?

a man standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: HBO © Provided by The Daily Beast HBO

Muta’Ali’s latest documentary Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn, which aired on HBO Wednesday, tells a complex tale of violent racism and carceral logic. Yusuf, a Black teenager, middle child of three boys, and role model to his friends, was 16 years old when he was shot twice and killed in 1989 Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a predominantly white Italian neighborhood. There was, as it’s repeated throughout the film, no good reason for the attack against Yusuf—in fact, a racist mythology swirled around the neighborhood involving a local girl and her rumored Black boyfriend.

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Yusef Hawkins , a 16-year-old African American, was murdered by a white mob in Bensonhurst. Police said several white youths had a confrontation with a different group of blacks Tuesday involving the woman. They said there also was a confrontation Saturday night, in which the woman was warned

" Yusuf Hawkins : Storm Over Brooklyn " Mural dedicated to Yusuf Hawkins in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (Courtesy of Hawkins Family/HBO). Many aspects about the documentary " Yusuf Hawkins : Storm Over Brooklyn " echo strained conversations we're having about race and equality in

Yusuf was in the neighborhood with his three friends to look at a used car, and didn’t know this girl or the 30-plus white boys who surrounded him. These boys and the neighborhood that raised them would deny responsibility for Yusuf’s death, let alone having racist beliefs (archival footage and audio shows several of those involved, as well as various Bensonhurst residents, casually referring to Black people as “n****rs”). Storm Over Brooklyn hears them out, but ultimately argues that racism doesn’t just materialize in instances—it is a scourge to the entire spirit of a place.

Muta’Ali interviews the young man, Joseph Fama—now middle-aged–who was sentenced to 32 and a half years for Yusuf’s murder, from prison; Fama claims he’s innocent. He says he was a mere bystander who fled town right after the shooting because he was spooked, not because he did it. It’s difficult to make sense of this denial, because the film doesn’t present any of the evidence from the case or conduct its own investigation. Instead, we hear from the white police officers and detectives who investigated, including one who admits to bringing up prison rape to Keith Mondello, who was also charged in Yusuf’s murder as the accomplice who organized the white teenage mob. Everyone interviewed, including Mondello’s own lawyer, admits that the attack was at the very least “racially motivated”—a common euphemism for racist—but in 1989, the story amongst Bensonhurst residents was that Yusuf was just in the wrong place at the wrong time; a tragedy occurred, and Black people had better get over it.

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Yusuf Hawkins was killed in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn , in 1989 after being surrounded by a mob of white youths. Hawkins and his friends unwittingly walked right past the crew of young whites Mondello had assembled, many of whom were wielding baseball bats.

The mob had formed in part in response to a rumor that a black or Hispanic teen from outside the largely Italian-American neighborhood was dating a local He was defeated by a 16-year-old, Yusuf Hawkins , a black New Yorker who was surrounded by a white mob in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

It’s this insult to good sense that drives the actions of Yusuf’s father, Moses Hawkins, who was absent during most of his childhood, but had returned eight months before Yusuf’s death to renew his commitment to fatherhood. Moses blazes fiercely toward a carceral justice, while Yusuf’s mother, Diane, tries and fails to grieve properly. Moses encourages her to show strength and not vulnerability; in both interviews and archival video footage, her pain tears through. Al Sharpton guides the parents and their living sons, Amir and Freddy, through marches and appeals to justice as New York’s first Black mayor, David Dinkins, is campaigning and eventually elected. Here, the film struggles to make sense of the differences between Black political figures, from Sharpton to Dinkins to Jesse Jackson to Martin Luther King, Jr. to notorious anti-Semite and eventual Malcolm X foe Louis Farrakhan, who Moses invited to speak at Yusuf’s funeral. Instead, we’re simply served with an idealistic slate of varying ideologies and approaches without a strong sense of their contexts or failings.

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31 Years Ago Yusuf Hawkins Was Killed in Brooklyn . Donald Trump's Rhetoric Fueled the Hatred. Muta'Ali Muhammad, the director HBO's Yusuf Hawkins : Storm Over And while the Black teens were attacked by a slur-flinging mob armed with them, at least one of the white youths had a gun.

Yusef Hawkins (also spelled as Yusuf Hawkins ) was a Police later said Hawkins was not involved with the girl. Hawkins ' killing was the third killing of a black man by mobs in New York City during the 1980 s ; the other two victims being Willie Turks who was killed on June 22, 1982 in Brooklyn and

In the midst of these narratives, Diane’s story, as well as Yusuf’s friend and witness to his murder, Luther Sylvester, get lost. These two people bear unique traumas because Yusuf’s death nearly annihilated them—justice was not top of mind; they wanted to lay their flowers, in their way. Sharpton’s machinations—savvy, opportunistic, or some mix of both—are the center of Muta’Ali’s depiction, but the story that often doesn’t get told is how the pain of racism cannot only be addressed with righteous indignation. Surely, Black people marching over Yusuf’s death—taking over the streets of Bensonhurst while risking retaliation by angry white people—was a vital challenge to the status quo that demanded (and still demands) that oppression be kept quiet for so-called peace to prevail. But that is the familiar story, and the one that is apparent now. What we don’t address enough in the conversation about racial justice is the trail of trauma left in the wake. There are no chants for this, and what Mayor Dinkins offered, a promise of healing and reconciliation, cannot be manifested by an election cycle.

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The whites , the authorities said, were lying in wait for black or Hispanic youths who they thought were dating a white neighborhood girl. The victim of the attack, Yusef Hawkins of the East New York section of Brooklyn , was shot twice in the chest and died shortly afterward at Maimonides Medical

The project will tell the story of Yusuf Hawkins , a black teenager who was shot and murdered in 1989 after being trapped by a group of white youths Muta’Ali’s film will explore a crime that shocked New York and the wider U.S. Hawkins ’ murder led to marches and protests that contributed to the ousting

After Yusuf’s death, Diane, like Eric Garner’s widow Esaw, was afraid to leave the house alone. When he returned to school after the killing, Luther Sylvester was unable to accept the help offered to him by his principal and guidance counselor. For years, he said, he thought it should’ve been him killed, and not Yusuf. Their crises were not purely individual or mental, but generational, communal, spiritual, and yes, political. The poison of racism affects everyone, even those who would seem to benefit from it. Russell Gibbons, a Black Bensonhurst resident, was aloof and tokenized yet still part of the otherwise white mob that surrounded Yusuf and his friends. Amir tells Ali that during the march, he saw white children all worked up, hurling epithets at him and the other demonstrators. “You’re not born with that,” he points out, “that’s something you learn.” You also learn fear and how to push down painful emotions and paper over them with the image of strength. You learn to draw up enemies in your head and pursue them in the street.

Now, in 2020, there’s an emphasis on “unlearning” racism or becoming “anti-racist,” but that’s been met by a pushback against what critics deem an individual—rather than structural—understanding of racism. Instead of trying to navel gaze one’s way out of a racist society, the argument goes, one has to actually take to the streets and fight against it. Of course, from whatever angle you look at it, no one set of ideas will determine the tide of agitation; the civil rights movement was an amalgam of different thinking and approaches, and in fact, plenty of people of all races didn’t want to have a thing to do with any of it—at least not on the ground. It’s a touchy issue to try to speak to any shared project amongst Americans, let alone New Yorkers, because we live in a country that is still, after all this time, torn up by seemingly endless distortions—and so many refuse to admit or even see it. It’s clear, however, that in the case of Yusuf, and the many who came before and after him, acknowledgement is the vital first step.

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