This week, HBO is debuting a new documentary called Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn, which tells the story of a murdered black teenager by a group of young white men in 1989. It premieres Wednesday, August 12, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
If you don’t have cable, here’s how to watch Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn on your computer, phone, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV or other streaming device:
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If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber or you want to start a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, you can watch all live and on-demand HBO content via the HBO Amazon Channel, which comes with a seven-day free trial:
Once you’re signed up for both Amazon Prime and the HBO channel, you can then watch Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn either live as it airs or on-demand anytime after.
For either option, you can watch on your computer via the Amazon website, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or other streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
Whether you already have Hulu or you want to sign up for a new subscription, HBO is available as an add-on to either Hulu or Hulu with Live TV. If you’re a new subscriber, you can start a free 30-day trial of regular Hulu plus the HBO add-on:
Once signed up for Hulu and the HBO add-on, you can watch Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn live as it airs, or you can watch it on-demand anytime after.
You can watch on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone (Android and iPhone supported), tablet, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (on-demand only), Nintendo Switch, Echo Show or other streaming device via the Hulu app.
‘Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn’ Preview
In 1989, 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins was shot to death in Brooklyn, New York City. Hawkins and three of his friends were attacked by a group of dozens of white young men, some wielding baseball bats. Hawkins was shot twice in the chest and died. The murder led to weeks of protests in the city.
In 1990, the man who fired the gun, Joseph Fama, was found guilty of second-degree murder. He received 32-years-to-life in prison. Another man who was leading the mob, Keith Mondello, was found guilty on 12 lesser charges and received 5-16 years in prison. A couple of other men involved in the attack either went to jail or were sentenced to community service. Mondello was released in 1998. Fama will not be eligible for parole until 2022.
The press release for the HBO documentary of the case reads:
Over 30 years later, New Yorkers, including Yusuf’s family and friends, reflect on the tragedy and the subsequent fight for justice that inspired and divided New York City. The film utilizes archival footage and photos, witness statements, news footage, in addition to candid interviews with Yusuf’s mother, Diane; brothers, Freddy and Amir; cousins, Darlene and Felicia Brown; and friend Christopher Graham and the two friends with him during the attack, Luther Sylvester and Bensonhurst native Russell Gibbons. The documentary also includes interviews with Defense Attorney Stephen Murphy; Joseph Fama, who was convicted of the crime; Reverend Al Sharpton, who became the family’s spokesperson; Assistant District Attorney Douglas Nadjari; activist Dr. Lenora Fulani; and former Mayor David Dinkins.
On August 23, 1989, sixteen-year-old East New York-native Yusuf Hawkins and three of his friends made a trip to the predominantly Italian-American neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to view a used car his friend was hoping to buy. Unknowingly, the teenagers emerged from the subway station into a racially charged scene. A group of white young men had already gathered there, intent on harassing a group of black guys rumored to be dating girls in their neighborhood. Yusuf and his friends were quickly surrounded by the crowd of white attackers wielding baseball bats. In the midst of the attack, Yusuf was shot to death.
Devastated by the senseless murder and seeking answers, the Hawkins family was shocked when police asked them to stay silent in order to prevent civil unrest. However, the press caught wind of the story two days later and the family was met with Yusuf’s face on the front page of the newspaper. Yusuf’s father, Moses, reached out to activist Reverend Al Sharpton, who became the family’s spokesperson and co-organized a series of marches in the Bensonhurst neighborhood where Yusuf was killed. Throughout the protests in the year following Yusuf’s murder, activists, protestors and Yusuf’s family were met with intense racist vitriol from residents.
Though a handful of young men were arrested in connection with Yusuf’s murder, the suspected shooter, Joseph Fama, remained at large before eventually turning himself in. As the marches for justice continued, the tensions reached a fever pitch when Sharpton was stabbed before a protest in January 1991. Still, Yusuf’s brother Amir maintains that the protests were crucial in making the community’s voices heard, proving that “There’s always strength in numbers.”
A harrowing account of an immutable part of the city’s history, and of a family coping with profound grief deepened by injustice, Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn details how the senseless murder that shook the foundation of the city shed light on deep racial divisions and inequity. Yusuf’s death and the demands of his family and community had political ramifications that contributed to the ousting of New York Mayor Ed Koch in favor of David Dinkins, the city’s first and only black Mayor.
“It’s important to remember Yusuf Hawkins, honor his life and be mindful that our martyrs have families who need our love long after the marching subsides,” states director Muta’Ali. “This film ties together the past and the present showing how racism can rear its head anywhere, even in a liberal city.”
Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn premieres Wednesday, August 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
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