20 Years After Bernie Goetz, NYC Subways Are Safer


Next week is the 20th anniversary of the Bernhard Goetz subway shooting in New York City. The Associated Press recalls that after the case “ignited a national furor over racism, gun control, crime and vigilante justice, New York is a far different place, and the sensational case now exists mostly as an artifact from another era.” On Dec. 22, 1984, Goetz, a meek-looking white man, rose from his seat and shot four black youths, one of whom had demanded $5. “Could it happen now?” asked attorney Ron Kuby, who won $43 million in a suit against Goetz on behalf of paralyzed victim Darrell Cabey. “Inconceivable. Inconceivable that the attack would take place. Inconceivable that the attacker would be hailed as a hero.”

At the time, there were 15,000 felonies a year on average in the subway. Twenty years later, there were 2,760 felonies reported through Nov. 14 – barely eight per day. Murders in the subways, which topped out at 26 in 1990, are at zero for the year. Subway ridership is at about 4.5 million riders daily; in 1984, ridership was at about 2.7 million per day. “The subways are everybody’s second neighborhood,” said Thomas Reppetto, a police historian who heads the Citizens Crime Commission. “If you live in Brooklyn, and see a story about a robbery in the Bronx, you think, ‘Gee, that’s terrible.’ But if there’s a story about a robbery in the subway, you think, ‘Whoa. I ride down there.'”

Link: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-12-16-goetz_x.htm

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