Brooklyn DA Looks Back At ‘Racially-Motivated’ Howard Beach Attack

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Twenty-five years ago, Howard Beach became a racial flashpoint.

On Dec. 19, 1986, Michael Griffith, 23, and three other black men ended up in the predominantly white neighborhood after their car broke down on Cross Bay Boulevard.

Three of the men were nearly bumped by a car in which several white teenagers were riding and words were exchanged between the two groups.

Other white teenagers soon joined in and chased Griffith, Timothy Grimes, who was 18, and Cedric Sandiford, who was 36.

Griffith was struck and killed by a car after being chased onto the Belt Parkway. Six blocks of Pacific Street are now named for him.

Sandiford, who was beaten with a bat during the incident, died in 1991 of AIDS. Grimes, who escaped unharmed, is currently behind bars for shooting his brother in Virginia.

Jon Lester, Scott Kern and Jason Ladone were convicted of manslaughter in the case. They are all out of prison now and are family men in their 40’s.

Though some argued the case was turf-motivated, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who was the special prosecutor during the Howard Beach racial trial, said the evidence clearly showed it was a “racially-motivated attack.”

Griffith’s mother, Jean, now works as a community liaison for Hynes.

“Right from the beginning, when I first met her, she was someone who had no hate or animosity anywhere in herself,” Hynes told 1010 WINS. “When the case resulted in the conviction of three of the four defendants she said she felt sorry for the parents of these defendants because of the fact that they were going to prison. Then she added, ‘at least they can see their children in prison, I have nothing to see but the cemetery and the dirt.'”

Representative Gregory Meeks represents Old Howard Beach and said it is a different place today than it was 25 years ago.

Hynes said many changes have progressively taken place over the years, specifically as a result of the Griffith case.

“Today, 45 percent of the NYPD is made up of people of color,” Hynes said. “As a matter of fact, the last academy class for police recruits is made up of a majority of minorities. So, there’s been a great many changes.”

Howard Beach still remains predominantly white neighborhood. The latest numbers show the proportion of non-Hispanic white residents at 74 percent. The black population remains below 2 percent.

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Emily Mascarenhas-Bennett says:

    White Trash out of jail already?

  2. Tommy C says:

    Lets see .#1 was a drug addit who died of AIDS …#’s 2&3 are convicted felons . Where was a crime commited ? They did society a favor . I grew up in Newark , NJ , surrounded by savages we knew not to go to the jungle and the animals knew not to come to the North Ward . Thats the way it was and thats the way its always going to be. Need to know the difference between A nigg_ _ and a black man .That came from a black man, who is 1 of my best friends for the last 35yrs.

  3. Truth love blk says:

    It’s racism.. which is a system, Blacks, Hispanics, nor Asian cannot be racist or bias..

  4. bobby says:

    No Frank whites need to ban together and start making some noise .

  5. Santa Claus says:

    On October 31, 2007, a confrontation between minority youths from Brooklyn and white locals resulted in two injured white teens. What caused the confrontation is not certain, but at 10:00 PM, a group of 30 to 40 black chased four white youths into a McDonald’s restaurant and assaulted two of them. Joseph Friedman was struck in the head with a broom handle that broke on contact. Friedman was taken to the hospital, where the wound was tended to with seven staples.[19] Another victim, Sean Camaratta, was punched in the face and suffered minor injuries. Witnesses reported hearing racial slurs during the attack. Five suspects, Patrick Pugh, George Morales, Victor Tossas, Terrance Scott and Talique Jackson, were later arrested and indicted for assault, menacing and criminal possession offenses.[20]
    The Thursday following the attacks, more than 150 Howard Beach residents marched down 157th Avenue calling for the accused to be charged with hate crimes.[21] A bias motive was investigated, but prosecution efforts were hindered when a police lineup produced one positive identification of Tossas but nothing else and DNA tests of the defendants came back negative.

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Beach,_Queens#2007

  6. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx says:

    Why does DA Hynes live in a all white gated community ?Tell us how to live with the savages again Mr Hynes

  7. Bay Ridge Man says:

    This is complete crap, one black man was killed there so what, you know whats next door to howard beach east new york where black men die daily at the hands of other black over stupider problems. Im sorry maybe I have to be black to understand but one black man being killed in that neighborhood in 25 years is a hell of a lot better than the black homicide rate in Harlem or BedStuy

    1. Very conservative says:

      A non story in 2011. 1986 yes, now no.

  8. Vc says:

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  9. WTF? says:

    comment not posting

  10. jane says:

    What happened at Howard Beach is no more a hate crime than what happened in Crown Heights. The only differences are the whites who chased these guys did copious amounts of time in prison. The 20 black males who lynched a Jewish man in Crown Heights NY 6 years later got a slap on the wrist. One got 8 years (which outraged black activists who thought that was too much) the others got zero.
    Howard Beach is called a hate crime, Crown Heights is called a dispute between communties. Howard Beach involved a few whites perps, Crown Heights involved several hundred black ones. Most whites are disgusted at what happened at Howard Beach, most blacks are apologists for what happened at Crown Heights.

    1. jant1215 says:

      Well said

  11. Donna says:

    Should we all give a round of applause or something? Basically, these three white killers got out of prison and still had plenty of employment opportunities waiting after killing someone. Now they’re “family men.” As for the black victims, well you know the drill.

    1. jane says:

      Donna, they did copious amounts of time in prison. The 20 black males who lynched a Jewish man in Crown Heights NY 6 years later got a slap on the wrist. One got 8 years (which outraged black activists who thought that was too much) the others got zero.
      Howard Beach is called a hate crime, Crown Heights is called a dispute between communties. Howard Beach involved a few whites perps, Crown Heights involved several hundred black ones. Most whites are disgusted at what happened at Howard Beach, most blacks are apologists for what happened at Crown Heights.

      1. Frank says:

        What we need is a white version of MLK. Just want fairness and no double standards. Is that really too much to ask?

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