Is Yusef Hawkins The Trayvon Martin Of Bensonhurst?

Yusef Hawkins (l) and Treyvon Martin (r)

In the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death, many are left wondering how far our country has actually gone in terms of racial equality.

Lee Sustar of the Indypendent recently wrote about the 1989 Bensonhurt murder of 16-year-old African American youth Yusef Hawkins, as an example of a legacy of racial profiling.

For those who need a memory jolt, Hawkins had gone to Bensonhurst with two friends to purchase a used car. A group of local Italian-American youths had assumed that Hawkins was part a gang. They chased and beat Hawkins and his friends and Hawkins was shot in the chest.

Most of the members of the mob that attacked Hawkins were tried, including the two leaders. Joseph Fama, who pulled the trigger, was convicted of second degree murder while others received minor punishments and acquittals.

The light sentencing sparked protests throughout the neighborhood, led by the Reverend Al Sharpton.

George Zimmerman, Trayvon’s killer, is still under investigation. Unlike Fama, Zimmerman may have the law on his side, specifically Florida’s controversial homicide self-defense provision, “stand your ground.”

What do you think – does the murder of Trayvon echo racially-motivated murders of the past, including the 1989 death of Hawkins? Is Yusef Hawkins Bensonhurst’s Trayvon Martin?