A Senseless Killing
Also in the summer of 1989, the murder of Yusuf Hawkins stunned the nation and sent racial tensions even higher. Yusuf’s murder was a result of heated tension in Bensonhurst, NY between two Italian residents Gina Feliciano, who was well known for her drug problems and Keith Mondello who was one of many in the neighborhood that didn't like Gina bringing young black and Latino men to the neighborhood. Tensions between the two escalated and both vowed violence against the other.
Listed below, based on The Tumultuous 80’s and Bensonhurst, (n.d.), is an account of what later happened.
Yusuf Hawkins and his friends, Troy Banner, Luther Sylvester, and Claude Stanford, were on their way to Bensonhurst. Claude had discovered an advertisement for a 1983 Pontiac, and he wanted his friends to go with him to take a look. They took the N train to the Twentieth Avenue and Sixty-fifth Street, where they got off in search of the car. It was only when they got to Twentieth Avenue and Bay Ridge Avenue, two blocks away from the schoolyard, did they realize something was wrong. That night, anxiety and excitement swelled to a fever pitch in the schoolyard. When Yusuf and his friends passed the entrance to P.S. 205, they were spotted by the mob of white youths who quickly went to investigate. Keith Mondello and another young man from the neighborhood, Charlie Stressler, were ahead of the pack as the group of 30 surrounded Hawkins and his friends. Realizing that the four young black men were not Gina’s friends, Stressler and Mondello backed away, refusing to attack them. An excited figure, later identified as Joseph Fama, pushed ahead of the pack shouting, “To hell with beating them up. I’m gonna shoot the nigger!” He pulled out a .32-caliber revolver and fired four quick shots into Yusuf’s chest.[ A woman from the neighborhood, Elizabeth Galarza, ran towards Yusuf as the mob scattered. She held his hand until paramedics Pericles Leonardis and Ralph Fasano arrived on the scene. Yusuf was taken to Maimonedes Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
- How It Started
- How Could The 1989 Greekfest Riots Been Avoided?
- Social and Economic Implications
- What Is Civic Responsibility?
- Responsible Course of Action
- A Change For The Better
- People Who Made A Difference
- Conclusion and Reflection
- In The Classroom