Obscura: A True Crime Podcast

49: The New York City Subway Shootings, Part 02

March 2, 2022

New York City in the 1980s was not the place we know it to be today, especially when it comes to violent crime. Almost no neighborhood was without risks, and no one was off limits. With millions of people living and working in such a confined space, commuting to and around Manhattan via the dirty, dangerous and heavily graffitied subway system was the only choice available to 3.3 million residents who relied on the subway every day. These days on the subway, transit officers have a reassuring presence. They ensure things are running smoothly and that any disturbances are dealt with swiftly. But in the 1980s, the city couldn’t afford to employ such security. Many citizens resented feeling scared, but there was little else they could do. The NYPD already had their work cut out for them in terms of responding to an overwhelming amount of daily emergency calls about violent assaults and murders. But it wouldn’t be long before widespread discontent about the amount of violent street crime in the Big Apple was about to be exposed in the most brutal and racially charged of circumstances. In 1984, four young African American men - and their white assailant, Bernhard Goetz - were unwittingly about to be the public faces of the wild west that many New Yorkers felt their city had become.

CW: racial profiling, drug use, sexual assault

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