Brooklyn Neighborhood Names Block In Honor Of Yusuf Hawkins, Black Teen Killed By White Mob In 1989
Hawkins, who is also honored with a mural in the same street corner, was 16 years old when he was killed.
March 22, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Thirty-two years after the death of Yusuf Hawkins, a Black teenager killed by a white mob, Brooklyn has renamed a block to honor the man who would have been 48 years old on Friday.
A renaming ceremony took place in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on Hawkins’ birthday, with the community coming together to partake in the celebration as the corner of Verona Place and Fulton Street became co-named Yusuf Kirreim Hawkins Way.
“I’m so happy and grateful that this is happening today,” Diane Hawkins, Yusuf’s mother, said according to Gothamist.
Hawkins, who is also honored with a mural in the same street corner, was 16 years old when he was killed in 1989. The teenager, living in East New York at the time, joined a group of friends to go shop for a used car in Bensonhurst, a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood. When the teens arrived in Bensonhurst, they were misidentified by a mob of white men who were looking for a Black man accused of dating a white woman. The group of about 30 white men, carrying guns and baseball bats, surrounded the teenagers. One of them then shot Hawkins, as Blavity previously reported.
The homicide sparked nationwide protests, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan. Residents in Bensonhurst confronted the protesters at the time, waving watermelons and shouting "n****rs go home."
While the gunman was identified as Joseph Fama, who continued to insist that he was innocent after being convicted, several others also faced multiple counts. That included radio personality Pasquale Raucci, also known as Paddy Duke, who initially faced murder charges before he was convicted on a lesser count. Raucci was fired from HOT 97 last year after the HBO documentary, Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn revealed his alleged involvement in the fatal incident.
Hawkins’s cousin, Darlene Brown, said the family is grateful that their loved one’s memory continues to live on with the latest honor.“From day one it’s been overwhelming for the family, but for the most part I just thank God that he will still live on when we’re not here because he leaves the Hawkins name on the map,” she said.
Councilmember Robert Cornegy Jr., who led the renaming effort in the City Council, described Hawkins as a “bright young man with limitless potential.”