9. The murder of Yusuf Hawkins occurred in Bensonhurst

the site where Yusuf Hawkins was killed in Bensonhurst

Yusuf Hawkins was a 16-year-old Black teenager from East New York who, with his brother and two friends, went to Bensonhurst one night in 1989 to inquire about a used car for sale. A crowd of between 10 and 30 white youths was waiting to attack a separate group of Black youths who were to attend a party hosted by a girl who may have had a previous relationship with a member of the group. Hawkins walked onto the block of the white youths, who proceeded to attack him and eventually fatally shoot him. Police stated that Hawkins was not in any way associated with the girl. The murder led to great racial tension in New York City, leading to a march in Bensonhurst led by Al Sharpton.

Joseph Fama, one of the two boys who led the mob, was convicted of second-degree murder, while the other named Keith Mondello was acquitted of murder charges; this led to more protests in Bensonhurst. Fama received 32 1/3 years in prison, while Mondello received between 5 1/3 to 16 years for a number of lesser charges. The light sentences and acquittals of others in the group led to even more protests and rallies in Bensonhurst. One march in 1991 resulted in the stabbing of Al Sharpton in a Bensonhurst schoolyard, though he later recovered. In 2005, it was ultimately revealed that the killers were present at the request of Joseph D’Angelo, a former member of the Gambino crime family.