Bensonhurst
 
November 6, 1989

When: August 23, 1989

The facts: Four young black men visit Bensonhurst to look at a used car. They are surrounded by a mob of white youths carrying baseball bats; Joseph Fama, one of the locals, pulls out a gun and shoots Yusuf Hawkins in the chest, killing him. "None of them had heard live gunfire before. But the gun was real -- a .32-caliber pistol. And seconds later, after the white mob had run away, Yusuf Hawkins lay dying in the street, two bullets lodged in his chest. He was sixteen," Michael Stone wrote in the November 6, 1989 issue of New York.

Why: Police say the mob mistook Hawkins and his buddies for friends of Gina Feliciano, a white girl who'd recently jilted her Bensonhurst boyfriend for a black lover; several people overheard one of the white boys say, "Let's not club the nigger—let's shoot him."

The protests: In the next few days, black mourners and activists, led by the Reverend Al Sharpton, march into Bensonhurst to protest. Area residents stand outside their houses and jeer, brandishing watermelons and shouting racial epithets.

The neighborhood: Italian Americans predominate and make it the largest Italian community in the city. The neighborhood is close-knit with strong cultural ties to the small rural towns of Southern Italy... Outsiders are often distrusted." —Michael Stone in the November 6, 1989 issue of New York.

Justice: Six people are charged with murder, two of them with "depraved indifference" to murder. Only Fama was convicted of murder.