There was racial tension in Howard Beach on 20th December in 1986, which was motivated by attacks on three black men. Burkoff and Weaver indicate that most black people were aggravated because of the inhumane treatment of Michael Griffith, Curtis Sylvester and Cedric Sandiford (75). The three men are reported to have being attacked by an angry mob of white teenagers after they had a scuffle. The mob consisting of the White boys was heading to a party when they met the aforementioned three black men walking at night in their neighborhood.
The problem is reported to have commenced on Friday, December, 19, in 1986 when the car broke down that Michael Griffith and four of his friends were travelling in. Three of them decided to go and seek for the help, while one remained near the car. The three men are said to have had a brief fracas with some white teens, but left afterwards.
The three black men then proceeded to New Park Pizzeria located on Cross Bay Boulevard. After having a snack, the men went away after ten minutes where they encountered some of the teens they had confronted before. Reports indicate that they were slightly more than ten white teens with baseball bats outside the pizzeria parlor. What ensued were the three men fighting for their lives because of the beating advanced to them. According to reports, Grimes survived the attack because he managed to escape via a hole on the neighborhood fence. On the other hand, Sandiford was lucky too because he managed to hide himself, which left the crowd with only Griffith in hot pursuit (Lippman 139).
Sources assert that Griffith was not lucky on that particular night, as he was hit on the six-lane expressway. This happened while he tried to stagger away from his tormentors. Griffith died instantly and his body was retrieved at Shore Parkway a few minutes after one in the morning (Burkoff and Weaver 75). Dominic Blum is the person accused of hitting down Griffith. According to reports, Blum was a court officer at that time and a son of a New York police officer.
As if the black men had not had enough drama for the night, Sandiford was arrested by police that night as they deemed him a suspect because of his bloody body. The police considered Sandiford a suspect in the case because they had discovered Griffith’s lifeless body at the parkway. Sandiford was humiliated by the fact that the officers denied him medical attention and expected him to give his version of the story severally until dawn.
According to Albergotti, Zambito and Schrager, these incidences led to a huge uproar amongst the black population that morning. Reports indicate that Edward Koch and Benjamin Ward were the first to advance their disapproval regarding the matter. Ward was of the opinion that the officers were insensitive to Sandiford while Koch considered the incident tantamount to a lynching. The New York’s African American community was outraged and organized several protests, which were led by Reverend Al Sharpton. Al Sharpton had advanced threats regarding the protests; however, it is reported that the black fraternity led a peaceful demonstration. However, the NYPD restored peace as they kept the locals in check. Other black leaders who contributed to protests regarding the matter include Floyd Flake, Sonny Carson and Rev. Herbert Daughtry.
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Four leaders of the mob Jason Ladone, Michael Pirone, Jon Lester and Scott Kem were arrested and charged with manslaughter and first degree assault regarding the Howard Beach incidence. The other gang members received lighter sentences such as community service. The case involving these teenagers ran for more than a year before the verdict was established.