MetroFocus: August 11, 2020

Encore: August 27, 2021

Thirty years ago, a black teen, Yusuf Hawkins was fatally shot after being chased by a white mob in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The murder tore the neighborhood and an already racially polarized city- apart. Today that tragedy, and the Hawkins family’s long fight for justice, has gained new resonance. A new HBO documentary “Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn”, revisits the 1989 murder incident that shook the city to its core. Tonight, the film’s director Muta’Ali Muhammad and Yusuf Hawkins’ brother, Amir Hawkins join us to discuss the film and the legacy of Yusuf Hawkins.

How has Bensonhurst changed over 30 years after the murder of Yusuf Hawkins? An enterprising reporter returns to the scene of the crime to find out.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> YUSUF, HE HAD A LITTLE SPARK IN HIM.

HE INSPIRED HIS BROTHERS.

I SAW EARLY ON MY COUSIN'S GOING PLACES.

PEOPLE IN THIS POST-OBAMA-ERA WANT TO LOOK AT NEW YORK IN THE '80s AND '90s IN THE LENS OF TODAY DON'T QUITE UNDERSTAND THAT THE RACIAL DIVISIONS WERE OVER THE TOP.

MADE PEOPLE SAY NEW YORK IS LIKE THIS.

AS HE STOPPED A BUNCH OF WHITE GUYS CAME AROUND THE CORNER, SURROUNDED US.

NEXT THING I KNOW, I HEAR GUNSHOTS.

20th AVENUE SOMEBODY JUST GOT SHOT.

A BUNCH OF WHITE BOYS JUST SHOT A BLACK GUY.

IT WASN'T MY FRIENDS AND IT WASN'T ME.

MY SON HAS BEEN TRIED AND EXECUTED.

ONLY BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN.

THEY EVALUATE THE EVIDENCE, THEY WILL REALIZE IT WASN'T A RACIAL CASE.

YOU'D HAVE TO BE STUPID TO NOT DETERMINE THAT THERE WAS A RACIST ELEMENT.

USED TO SAY MAKE THE COMFORTABLE UNCOMFORTABLE AND MAKE THE UNCOMFORTABLE COMFORTABLE.

SO I SAID WE SHOULD MARCH IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

THEY DID NOT WANT US THERE AND THEY MADE THAT KNOWN.

IT'S LIKE UNBELIEVABLE HOW PEOPLE ACTED OUT.

WE ARE NOT GOING GO AWAY QUIETLY.

IT'S TAKEN US.

MY BROTHER'S DOWN, KEEP YELLING OUT HIS NAME.

YUSUF!

YUSUF!

YUSUF!

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

THAT WAS THE TRAILER FOR THE HBO DOCUMENTARY TITLED YUSUF HAWKINS 'STORM OVER BROOKLYN.'

IT REVISITS THE 1989 MURDER OF YUSUF HAWKINS IN BENSONHURST.

TODAY MORE THAN 30 YEARS LATER, THAT TRAGEDY AND CERTAINLY THE PURSUIT BY THE HAWKINS FAMILY FOR JUSTICE RESONATES ONCE AGAIN GIVEN WHAT'S TAKING PLACE ON THE STREETS OF OUR CITIES.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THE FILM, TO TALK ABOUT THE INCIDENT, TO TALK ABOUT THE PROTESTS AND THE LEGACY OF THE DEATH OF YUSUF HAWKINS IS THE DIRECTOR OF THE FILM EMUTA 'ALI MUHAMMED.

AS A FILMMAKER AND AS A FILMMAKER YOU ARE A STORYTELLER.

WHAT WAS IT THAT DREW YOU TO LOOKING BACK THREE DECADES TO WANT TO TELL THIS STORY NOW?

WELL, WHEN I TOOK A LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED, BECAUSE I WAS A YOUNG CHILD WHEN YUSUF WAS MURDERED, I HAD TO GET AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE SCOPE OF THE STORY AND I DIDN'T NECESSARILY WANT TO JUST REHASH THE TRAGIC PORTION THAT YUSUF'S FAMILY EXPERIENCED.

I WANTED TO DISPLAY WHAT HAPPENED, BUT ALSO PUT IT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK ITSELF BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE SOME OF THE COMPONENTS THAT LED TO THE INCIDENT THAT TOOK PLACE AUGUST 23rd, '89, NEW YORK CITY WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR.

THE WAY THAT WE LIVE IN OUR POCKETED COMMUNITIES SOMETIMES SPLIT OFF BY RACE, THE WAY THAT MAYOR ED KOCH AT THAT TIME DIVESTED IN CERTAIN AREAS OF BROOKLYN AND INVESTED IN OTHER AREAS.

THE WAY THE MEDIA PORTRAYED IMAGERY OF BLACK AMERICANS A FEW MONTHS AFTER THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE JOGGER INCIDENT IN '89 WHEN YUSUF WAS KILLED.

I FELT THIS WAS A DYNAMIC STORY NOT ONLY IN TERMS OF THE VELOCITY AT WHICH YUSUF WAS SURROUNDED AND ATTACKED BUT LOSS A LOT OF THE LARGER DYNAMIC FORCES GOING ON IN THE CITY ITSELF.

AND THEN YOU HAVE REF RVEREND H TON, WHO WAS BROUGHT INTO THE EQUATION AND EVERYTHING TOOK OFF FROM THERE.

IT WAS SUCH A COMPELLING STORY AND ALSO RELEVANT TO TODAY BECAUSE OF A LOT OF THE COMPONENTS THAT LED TO YUSUF BEING KILLED AND THE PEOPLE WHO ATTACKED HIM, THEY EXIST TODAY, THE ENVIRONMENT EXISTS TODAY.

I WILL COME BACK TO YOU IN A MINUTE.

NEW YORK CITY THEN AS OPPOSED TO NEW YORK CITY NOW.

BEFORE THAT, AMIR, LET ME CASK YOU THIS.

WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU AND FAMILY MEMBERS WERE APPROACHED ABOUT DOING THIS FILM SOME 30 YEARS AFTER THE DEATH OF YOUR BROTHER?

WELL, TO BE HONEST, AT FIRST IT WAS, YOU KNOW, NO, YOU KNOW, WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO IT, WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO IT.

IT WAS A COUPLE PHONE CALLS AND EMAILS AND TEXTS IN BETWEEN.

YOU KNOW, SO, BASICALLY, IT BOILS DOWN TO I ASKED MY MOM, YOU KNOW, AND SEE HOW SHE FELT ABOUT IT.

ADD FIRST SHE WAS, YOU KNOW, SHE DIDN'T REALLY WANT TO DO IT.

AND SO THAT KIND OF LEFT ME TO WHERE, NO, I DIDN'T WANT TO DO IT.

BUT THE MORE, YOU KNOW, THE MORE I THOUGHT ABOUT IT AND, YOU KNOW, WHEN MUTAI'ALI REACHING OUT TO ME, I HAD TO THINK OF IT IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT TO SAY, YOU KNOW, HIS STORY NEEDS TO BE TOLD.

SO THAT'S WHAT KIND OF, YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHAT KIND OF GOT ME ONBOARD AS THE MORE I THOUGHT ABOUT IT LIKE, YOU KNOW, IT WILL BE A GREAT JOB TO TELL THE STORY BECAUSE IT WAS TOLD BASICALLY THROUGH ME AND IT WAS NEVER REALLY TOLD DIRECTLY FROM THE FAMILY.

EVERYTHING WAS, YOU KNOW, CLIPS HERE, CLIPS THERE.

SO THIS, THE FILM IS ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, A BETTER WAY OF GETTING THE STORY ACROSS AS A WHOLE INSTEAD OF PIECES.

ALL RIGHT.

MUTAI'ALI, LET ME COME BACK TO SOMETHING THAT YOU TOUCHED BASE ON.

I THINK ANYONE WHO WATCHES THE FILM WILL BE STRUCK BY THIS.

JUST WATCHING THE TRAILER I THINK THEY WILL HAVE SEEN JARRING IMAGES OF THE PEOPLE ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY WHEN THE PROTESTS AFTER THE DEATH ARE TAKING PLACE AND YOUR FIRST REACTION MIGHT BE, THIS IS NOT SELMA, ALABAMA.

THIS IS NOT CONOR.

THESE ARE THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY IN BROOKLYN.

HOW CAN THAT BE?

WHAT WE'RE SEEING, THAT IT EXISTED AT THAT VITRIOLIC LEVEL THEN.

YOU MENTIONED YOU WERE YOUNGER AT THE TIME.

AS A FILMMAKER LOOKING BACK AT THIS, WERE YOU STRUCK BY THE IMAGES, THE VICIOUSNESS OF THOSE IMAGES?

YOU KNOW, I WAS NOT STRUCK BY THAT.

I THOUGHT ABOUT THAT EARLIER THIS WEEK, THAT IT DIDN'T SURPRISE ME.

I THINK THAT MIGHT JUST BE BECAUSE OF MY CHILDHOOD AND PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY WHO RECALL STORIES COMING UP IN THE SOUTH AND SAID NEW YORK IS NO DIFFERENT.

THINGS LIKE THAT.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IT'S SHOWED ME THOUGH IS EVERY GENERATION WE ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT WE'VE GOTTEN PAST A CERTAIN POINT.

I DO REMEMBER IN '89 BEING TOLD NEW YORK WAS A MELTING POT, AND I REMEMBER THE MAYOR TALKING ABOUT THE GORGEOUS MOSAIC OF RACISM, CULTURES.

AND IN THAT MOMENT THE THOUGHT COULD ALSO HAVE BEEN, AND I FELT THE THOUGHT WAS, YOU KNOW, AS A YOUNGSTER, THAT A LOT OF THE RACIST DANGERS IN AMERICA AND IN NEW YORK, WE ARE PAST THAT.

SO BEING ABLE TO REVEAL THE IMAGERY THERE AND WHAT AMIR AND HIS FAMILY WENT THROUGH NOT ONLY DOES IT SERVE THE PURPOSE OF TELLING THE STORY, BUT I HOPE THAT WHEN PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN '89 IN NEW YORK REMEMBER THEMSELVES THINKING THAT RACISM IS SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE GOTTEN OVER, THAT THEY ALSO THINK TWICE WHEN THEY WATCH THIS FILM LIKE, OH IF THEN I THOUGHT THAT RACISM WAS KIND OF OVER AND I WAS SHOCKED THEN, AND I THINK NOW IN 2020 VERSUS SOMETHING WE HAVE GOTTEN PAST, NOT AS BAD AS IT WAS BEFORE, THEY MAY REIMAGINE MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD AROUND ME, MAYBE TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT MY SURROUNDINGS BECAUSE RACISM IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL AND THERE IS A GREAT POTENTIAL OUT THERE FOR TRAGEDIES FOR THINGS LIKE THAT TO HAPPEN.

YOU MENTIONED MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY.

YOUR GRANDPARENTS SIGNIFICANT LEADERS IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT BACK THEN IN THE '60s AND CONTINUING THEN.

SO WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR FAMILY INVESTED IN IT, CERTAINLY YOU WERE DRAMATICALLY INVESTED IN IT.

AMIR, SIMILAR QUESTTO YOU.

YOU LIVED THROUGH THIS.

IT WAS 30 YEARS AGO.

YOU LIVE IN ATLANTA.

WE ARE SEEING THINGS HAPPENING ON THE STREETS OF ATLANTA, NEW YORK CITY, SO MANY OTHER CITIES RIGHT NOW.

SO WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT THOSE FILMS, ARE YOU JARRED BY IT?

I'LL START WITH THE BEGINNING THIS WAY.

WHEN I WAS AT -- AT 14 YEARS OLD, BECAUSE THAT'S OLD I WAS WHEN THIS HAPPENED TO MY BROTHER, WHEN HE GOT KILLED.

SO AT 14 YEARS OLD, YOU KNOW, WE HEARD STORIES OF RACISM, STUFF LIKE THAT, BUT I LIKE YOU SAID,S FAR AS IN NEW YORK, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF PEOPLE WAS THINKING, OH, WELL, IT'S NOT QUITE THAT LIKE BECAUSE WE ALWAYS KNOWN, HEARD ABOUT THE SOUTH.

SO, YOU KNOW, GOING THROUGH THAT IS LIKE, WOW.

AND SO I'M 14 YEARS OLD TRYING TO PROCESS THIS BECAUSE I SEEN, YOU KNOW, SEEN MOVIES.

THE WEIRD THING, WHAT HAPPENED IS THAT NIGHT THAT IT HAPPENED, A FEW HOURS BEFORE THAT, WE WERE IN THE HOUSE WATCHING 'MISSISSIPPI BURNING'.

YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT A TRAGIC IRONY.

FOR OUR VIEWERS HERE, IT'S BASED LOOSELY -- NOT TERRIBLY LOOSELY, ON THE MURDERS OF THE THREE FREEDOM RIDERS DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI.

THEIR BODES WERE FOUND BURIED IN AN EARTHEN DAM AFTER THEY WERE HELD BY LOCAL POLICE AND AMBUSHED BY THE KKK.

THE MOVIE 'MISSISSIPPI BURNING' TALKS ABOUT THE ROLE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TRYING TO FIND JUSTICE THERE.

I WAS STRUCK BY THAT WHEN I'M WATCHING THE FILM THAT THAT'S WHAT YOU WERE WATCHING AT THE TIME.

YES, THAT'S WHAT WE WERE WATCHING A FEW HOURS PRIOR TO THAT HAPPENING.

SO, YOU KNOW, NOW FAST FORWARD, AND GROWING UP, YOU KNOW, YOU STILL SEE ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT CASES, YOU KNOW, OF RACIAL ACTS, RACIAL VIOLENCE, STUFF LIKE THAT.

I MEAN, TO ME IT'S -- I DON'T KNOW HOW TO EXPLAIN, LIKE, WHEN IS WE, AS A SOCIETY, WHEN ARE WE GOING TO STOP WITH THAT?

WHEN IS IT GOING TO END?

BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, IT DIDN'T START WITH MY BROTHER.

IT STARTED YEARS BEFORE THAT.

HE WAS JUST ONE OF THE MAJOR STORIES THAT HIT THE WORLD NEWS.

RIGHT.

MUTAI'ALI, TO YOU.

YOU MENTIONED THE ROLE OF THE REVEREND AL SHARPTON WHO WAS STARTING TO EMERGE AS A CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER BACK THEN.

HE WAS A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE IN NEW YORK CITY AT THAT TIME, AND IN GOING BACK AND LOOKING AT THIS, YOU KNOW, THERE WERE A COUPLE OF VIEWPOINTS ABOUT HIM.

ONE WAS THAT HE WAS A GALVANIZING FORCE, GET PEOPLE OUT ON THE STREETS, GET ATTENTION PAID TO THIS.

OTHERS CONTENDED THAT HE WAS STOKING THE FIRES, USING THEIR LANGUAGE, OF RACISM AND CONFRONTATION.

YOU TALKED TO HIM AS PART OF THE PREPARATION.

TELL ME HIS RECOLLECTIONS.

I GUESS FIRST QUESTION IS, WHAT DID YOU SEE HIS ROLE BEING?

AND A FOLLOW-UP TO THAT IS, WHAT ARE HIS RECOLLECTION OF THOSE EVENTS?

HIS ROLE BEING SOMEWHAT A MENTOR TO THE FAMILY, SOMEONE WHO COULD GUIDE THEM THROUGH THE PROCESS OF NAVIGATING THROUGH A SOCIETY WHERE THERE IS NO EASY WAY TO FIND JUSTICE WHEN YOU ARE BLACK AND WHITE PEOPLE HAVE ATTACKED YOU, YOU KNOW.

HOW DO YOU FIND JUSTICE THERE WHEN THE MEDIA DOESN'T NECESSARILY, THEY DON'T NECESSARILY ALWAYS LAND ON YOUR SIDE.

THE POWERS THAT BE OFTEN HAVE TO PLACATE TOWARDS THE WISHES AND DESIRES AND THE CONTRACTS OF THEIR LARGEST TAX BASE, WHICH IS OFTEN WHITE PEOPLE.

HOW DO YOU NAVIGATE THROUGH THAT AND YOU ARE DEALING WITH SOMEONE WHO YOU LOVE BEING MURDERED, RIGHT?

SO I FEEL LIKE HE CAME IN THERE WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF HAVING BEEN ACTIVE AFTER THE MICHAEL RICHARD ATTACK AND EARLIER IN THE '80s IN NEW YORK ALSO, AND HE WAS ABLE TO GIVE THEM DIRECTION.

AND I THINK IT WAS BRILLIANT TO ACTUALLY ORCHESTRATE MARCHES DIRECTLY THROUGH BENSONHURST.

AND IT RESULTED IN CONTENT THAT WAS SO STRONGING THAT ITS VALUABLE 30 YEARS LATER, BUT IT ALSO YIELDED RESULTS.

PART OF THE PRESSURE THAT THEY WERE ABLE TO PUT ON THE COMMUNITY RESULTED IN THE COMMUNITY TURNING OVER SOME OF THE ATTACKERS.

THEY WERE DI30 AND ONLY 8 WERE CHARGED, BUT THERE COULD HAVE BEEN NONE CHARGED.

I THINK WHAT HE DID WAS EFFECTIVE.

THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY TO CRITICIZE SOMEBODY.

WE ARE SMART ENOUGH TO FIGURE OUT SOME WAY TO POKE HOLES AT SOMEBODY'S APPROACH.

BUT ULTIMATELY WHAT I THINK THE HAWKINS FAMILY DID ALONGSIDE REVEREND SHARPTON IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW YOU CAN FIND JUSTICE.

AND I THINK IF WE LOOK AT THAT EXAMPLE AND APPLY IT TO TODAY, TO MAKE ME THINK ABOUT THE ACTIVISM SURROUNDING THE BREONNA TAYLOR AND THE OFFICERS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ARRESTED FOR MURDERING HER.

I FEEL LIKE CONTINUED PRESSURE, IF THEY APPLY TODAY WHAT THE HAWKINS FAMILY DID AND REVEREND SHARPTON DID IN '89, THEN THEY ARE GOING TO FIND SOME JUSTICE.

SO I SUPPORT REVEREND SHARPTON.

DOING THIS PROJECT GAVE ME A LARGER UNDERSTANDING, I BELIEVE, OF THE EFFECT THAT HE HAS HAD ON IT.

ONCE AGAIN, TALKING ABOUT THE HBO DOCUMENTARY TITLED YUSUF HAWKINS 'STORM OVER BROOKLYN.'

MUTA'ALI MUHAMMAD IS THE DIRECTOR AND AMIR HAWKINS IS THE BROTHER OF YUSUF HAWKINS.

AMIR, MUTAI'ALI TALKED ABOUT JUSTICE.

WHEN YOU LOOKED AT THIS CASE, ONLY EIGHT CHARGED.

ONE PERSON CONVICTED OF SECOND-DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER IN JAIL UNTIL HIS ELIGIBILITY DATE IN 2022.

HE WAS CONVICTED, REED BACK IN 1998.

SO I KNOW THAT THE FAMILY HAS DECRIED THIS AS NOT BEING JUST, AS JUSTICE NEVER BEING FOUND FOR YOUR BROTHER.

LET ME TALK ABOUT PERSONALLY.

WOULD YOU -- AND I KNOW YOUR FATHER MOSES ACTUALLY TALKED TO KEITH MONDELLO.

WOULD YOU WANT TO TALK TO JOSEPH FAMA, THE MAN WHO WAS CONVICTED ON -- OF SECOND-DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER, ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN THE SHOOTER?

WOULD YOU WANT TO TALK TO HIM ABOUT THIS?

NO.

BECAUSE I DON'T SEE THE POINT IN HAVING THE CONVERSATION WITH HIM.

I'LL TELL YOU WHY.

IT'S BECAUSE THROUGHOUT THIS WHOLE DEAL HE'S ALWAYS BEEN TRYING TO MAINTAIN SOME KIND OF -- IT WASN'T ME, IT WASN'T MY FRIENDS, IT WASN'T US, WE DIDN'T DO IT.

WELL, HERE'S THE THING.

SO YOUR SURROUNDING FRIENDS, WHOEVER HE WAS SURROUNDED WITH, FINGERED HIM.

THEY POINTED HIM OUT.

SO, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU HAVE ALL OF THE EVIDENCE POINTING AT YOU, I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT, YOU KNOW, WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE HERE BECAUSE SOMEBODY DID IT, AND YOU WERE A PART OF THAT 27 TO 30 GUYS.

BECAUSE WHEN YOU WATCH THE FILM, HOW IT'S PUT TOGETHER, KEITH MONDELLO AND HIM WAS THE MAIN TWO LEADING THE CROWD.

SO, YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW.

SO, TO ME, AND I'M NOT SAYING I WOULD HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH HIM EVEN IF HE ADMITTED IT AND SHOWED REMORSE, BUT YOU'RE -- I'M GOING TO PROCESS OR TRY TO PROCESS YOU, SIT DOWN AND TELL ME THAT, WELL, YOU DIDN'T DO IT, IT WASN'T ME, BUT YOU WERE THERE AND I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

THAT'S NOT GOING TO BE A SENSIBLE CONVERSATION FOR ME.

UNDERSTANDABLE GIVEN ALL OF THE QUESTIONS.

GENTLEMEN, WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

BUT ONCE AGAIN, I WANT TO REMIND-EVERYBODY HBO DOCUMENTARY YUSUF HAWKINS STORM OVER BROOKLYN.

CHECK HBO, CHECK 'METROFOCUS'.ORG TO GET THE LISTINGS.

IT IS A COMPELLING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING FILM.

MUTA'ALI MUHAMMAD, THE DIRECTOR, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

AMIR HAWKINS, I APPRECIATE YOU ALSO FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US.

GREAT FILM MAKING.

GREAT STORYTELLING AND RIPE FOR THIS TIME.

GENTLEMEN, THANKS SO MUCH MUCH.

BOTH OF YOU BE WELL.

THANK YOU.

HAVE A NICE EVENING.

TAKE CARE NOW.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

BENSONHURST, BROOKLYN, 1989.

FOR MANY IT CONJURES MEMORIES OF ONE OF THE MOST PAINFUL RACIAL INCIDENTS IN NEW YORK'S CHISTOR.

KILLING OF YUSUF HAWKINS.

HE WAS SET UPON BY A WHITE MOB AND FATALLY SHOT.

SETTING OFF MONTHS OF PROTESTS, MARCHES AND PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ELECTION OF NEW YORK OWES FIRST BLACK MAYOR DAVID DINKINS.

BENSONHURST BECAME A NATIONAL SYMBOL OF HATE.

IN THE 30 YEARS SINCE HAWKINS' DEATH THE HEAVILY ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD HAS BEEN DIVERSIFIED.

SEEKING TO FIND OUT HOW THE TRAGEDY IS REMEMBERED TODAY THE NEWS OUTLET THE CITY TRAVELED IT TO BENSONHURST TO INVESTIGATE AND JOURNALIST CLIFFORD MICHELLE IS HERE WITH HIS FINDINGS.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

THANK YOU.

LET'S SET THE STAGE FOR THE VIEWERS HERE.

30 YEARS AGO I REMEMBER IT, I WAS JUST STARTING IN TELEVISION NEWS, AS A MATTER OF FACT, WORKING AS A LEGAL ANALYST FOR CHANNEL 2 NEWS IN NEW YORK CITY.

I REMEMBER THE STORY.

GIVE US THE SENSE OF HOW THIS ALL PLAYED OUT AS A BACKDROP TO YOUR INVESTIGATION AND OUR CONVERSATION.

YEAH.

SO ON AUGUST 23, 1989, YUSUF HAWKINS AND THREE OF HIS BUDDIES GOT OUR OF THE N TRAIN ON 20th AVENUE AND HE WAS JUST LOOKING TO BUY A USED 1982 PONTIAC.

AND ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER HE WAS ENGULFED, SURROUNDED BY THESE WHITE TEENAGERS WHO SEVERAL OF THEM WERE -- HAD BASEBALL BATS, GOLF CLUBS, AND JUST WITHIN A FEW BLOCKS THEY HAD SURROUNDED HIM AND A GUNMAN, THE GUNMAN, JOSEPH FAMA, SHOT HIM TWICE IN THE CHEST.

TALK ABOUT WHAT THE BENSONHURST NEIGHBORHOOD WAS LIKE THEN.

IT'S COMPLEXION, IF YOU WILL, ITS COMPOSITION 30 YEARS AGO.

IT WAS A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE WORKING CLASS ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD, PIZZERIAS, EVERYWHERE, AND JUST A MAJORITY HOMEOWNER NEIGHBORHOOD AS WELL.

AND THE COMPLEXION OF THAT NEIGHBORHOOD HAS CHANGED INTENSELY SINCE THEN.

BUT BACK THEN, YOU KNOW, ONLY THREE DAYS AFTER THE SHOOTING, YOU KNOW, BLACK ORGANIZERS GOT TOGETHER AND IMMEDIATELY THEY WERE OFFSET BY PEOPLE YELLING RACIAL EPITAPHS AT THEM.

EVEN AFTER THE SHOOTING, STILL BEING ATTACKED RACIALLY?

YEAH, AND SOME PEOPLE ACTUALLY HOLDING WATERMELONS, AS A FORM OF RIDICULE AT THE TIME.

AND IT SHARPLY DIVIDED THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

WHAT WERE YOU LOOKING FOR?

WHEN THE DECISION WAS MADE -- LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THIS.

LET'S GO BACK 30 YEARS.

LET'S GO BACK TO BENSONHURST.

WHAT WAS THE IDEA?

I WANTED TO SEE WHAT THE NEIGHBORHOOD REMEMBERED.

HONESTLY, WHAT I FOUND WAS A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT HAS DEEPLY CHANGED.

THERE ARE STILL REMNANTS OF THAT OLD NEIGHBORHOOD, BUT NOW WE ARE LOOKING AT A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT'S 55% OF THE POPULATION IS FOREIGN BORN, SO MANY FROM CHINA, TURKEY, PAKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN, AND YOU SEE THESE OLD-SCHOOL PIZZERIAS, THEY ARE STILL THERE AND ALL THESE ITALIAN EATERIES, BUT ACROSS THE STREET YOU SEE A HUGE CHINESE BUFFET, A TURKISH EATERY AT THE SAME TIME, AND NOW IT'S ACTUALLY MINORITY/MAJORITY IN THE SENSE WHERE IT'S I BELIEVE IT'S ONLY 44% ARE WHITE.

WHEN YOU ASK PEOPLE, THIS IS GENERAL OBVIOUSLY, BUT WHEN YOU ASKED ABOUT THE YUSUF HAWKINS SHOOTING, HOW MANY DID YOU FIND ACTUALLY REMEMBERED IT, WERE AWARE OF IT?

DOZENS.

DOZENS, TRULY, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO WERE HOMEOWNERS AND STILL HAD THEIR HOMES IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD.

THEY DID REMEMBER THE SMHOOTING AND THEY REMEMBERED IN PARTICULAR THE MARCHES THAT WERE ORGANIZED WHICH REVEREND AL SHARPTON BACK THEN.

BUT WHEN I TALKED TO SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO MOVED MORE RECENTLY, THE MEMORY IS STARTING TO FADE A BIT.

WE ARE TALKING -- I TALKED TO ONE INDIVIDUAL WHO WAS SHOCKED THAT THAT COULD HAPPEN --

I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT BECAUSE I NOTED THAT SOMEONE WAS ESSENTIALLY SAYING TO YOU, REALLY?

HERE?

I NEVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED.

YEAH.

I MEAN, THE DNA OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IS MUCH THE SAME.

IT'S A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE WANT TO RAISE THEIR FAMILIES.

WHEN I TALK TO A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOVED THERE, THE ONE INDIVIDUAL, MOHAMED FROM SYRIA, HE WAS ABSOLUTELY RATTLED.

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AN INCIDENT THAT ABSOLUTELY SHAPED A NEIGHBORHOOD, DEFINED A NEIGHBORHOOD FOR IT, AND IT HAS VERY MUCH CHANGED SINCE THEN AND I THINK WHEN PEOPLE WHO HAVE MORE RECENTLY IN RECENT YEARS MOVED TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD THEY ARE SURPRISED THAT SOMETHING LIKE THAT COULD HAPPEN.

SO IT WAS YOUR SENSE AFTER SPENDING SOME TIME THERE, YOU KNOW, GOING BACK TO THE RACIAL ANIMAS THAT EXISTED IN 1989, DID YOU FIND ANY SEMBLANCE OF THAT AT ALL?

THERE WERE A COUPLE OF PEOPLE I SPOKE TO WHO FELT THAT THE MARCHES PAINTED THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD IN A BAD LIGHT, AND REALLY PUSHED BACK ON THE SENTIMENT THAT IT WAS A RACIAL INCIDENT, ACTUALLY, AND IT WAS A RACIST ATTACK, AND THEY FELT MORE THAT THESE WERE YOUNG TEENAGERS WHO GOT INTO A FIGHT AND THAT WAS ALL TO IT.

OF COURSE, THAT'S NOT WHAT EVERYONE SAID.

I TALKED TO ONE FAMILY WHO ACTUALLY, THEY LIVED ON 20th AVENUE WHERE THE SHOOTING OCCURRED, AND THEY LEFT.

THEY ACTUALLY SOLD THEIR HOME.

THEY WERE SO AFFECTED BY IT?

YEAH.

YOU MENTIONED THE TWO YOUNG MEN CONVICTED OF THIS.

THERE IS AN INTERESTING PART OF THE STORY WHERE YOU TALK OF KEITH MONDELLO, CONVICTED OF LESSER OFFENSES.

HE IS STILL IN PRISON.

AND YOU TALK ABOUT A CONTACT BETWEEN KEITH MONDELLO AND A FAMILY MEMBER OF YUSUF HAWKINS.

TELL ME ABOUT THAT.

MOSES STEWARD, HAWKINS' FATHER, AFTER MONDELLO GOT OUT OF PRISON, HE FIRST SENT A LETTER TO THE FAMILY, BUT HE RECONCILED WITH THE FATHER IN LATE 1998 AND THEY ACTUALLY GOT TOGETHER AND HE APOLOGIZED AND THE FATHER ACCEPTED THE APOLOGY.

IT'S A DIFFERENT STORY WHEN IT COMES TO THE MOTHER.

WHEN YOU SAY A DIFFERENT STORY WITH REGARD TO THE MOTHER, HOW?

SHE HAS BEEN QUOTED OVER AND OVER IN THE ANNIVERSARIES SAYING THAT THIS IS A WOUND THAT WILL NEVER HEAL IN HER HEART, SOMETHING THAT SHE IS GOING TO TAKE TO THE GRAVE, AND SHE ACKNOWLEDGES THE APOLOGIES.

SHE DOES NOT ACCEPT THEM.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

YOU TALK ABOUT MOTHER, OF COURSE, REMEMBERING THE DEATH OF HER SON.

WE TALKED ABOUT HOW MUCH COVERAGE THIS GOT AT THE TIME.

IT'S INTERESTING, I THINK, TO SEE HOW MUCH YUSUF HAWKINS' MEMORY IS STILL INGRAINED, ESPECIALLY IN SOME LEVELS OF POP CULTURE.

YEAH.

JUST HOW HAS HE BEEN REMEMBERED?

HOW HAS HIS MEMORY BEEN KEPT ALIVE IN MANY WAYS THROUGH VARIOUS, AS I SAID, POP CULTURE MEANS?

YEAH, I THINK YOU COULD DEFINITELY POINT TO SPIKE LEE'S FILM AS ONE EXAMPLE, 'DO THE RIGHT THING.'

WHEN YOU LOOK AT A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT REMIND YOU A LOT OF BENSONHURST AND COMMUNITIES CLASHING AND RACIAL TENSIONS TRULY COMING TO A BOIL.

ALSO, I THINK IN FOLLOWING YEARS YOU SAW HIS NAME LITTERED OVER HIP HOP TRACKS EVERYWHERE.

IT WAS SOMETHING THAT HAD REALLY SHOOK THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

WELL, IT'S A VERY INTERESTING LOOK BACK AT WHAT A DIFFICULT TIME AND PLACE AND HOW IT'S CHANGED IN THE PERIOD OF THE THREE DECADES.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US.

APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU FOR INVITING ME.

THANK YOU.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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