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Sat, 12.20.1986

The Howard Beach Incident Occurs

the New York Daily News

The Howard Beach incident, the murder of a Black man by a small white-American mob in New York, occurred on this date in 1986.

Michael Griffith, a 23-year-old Black, and two of his Black friends, Cedric Sandiford and Timothy Grimes, were driving in Howard Beach when their car broke down near a local pizza parlor. They walked into New Park Pizza and asked to use a phone but were refused. They then sat down to eat a slice of pizza. Two police officers walked into the pizza place a few moments later, answering a call of "three suspicious Black males.” The two cops left when they realized the call was unwarranted.

A group of white men spotted and harassed Michael and his friends, yelling, “There’s niggers at the pizza parlor. Let’s get them.” The white men were John Lester, Scott Kern, and Jason Ladone. The Blacks left the pizza parlor and walked up the street, where a gang of white men was waiting for them with baseball bats and tree limbs. They beat Griffith and Sandiford, but Grimes pulled a knife on the angry white men and got away unharmed. Sandiford was knocked unconscious, and Griffith was severely beaten.

Griffith then dove through a hole in an adjacent fence, and he staggered onto a parkway, trying to escape the attackers. As he attempted to get across the street and flee, he was struck and instantly killed by a car on the Belt Parkway.

The Howard Beach incident set off a wave of protests and racial tensions in New York.


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