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Acquittal of Subway Shooter

June 23, 1987

Should I, as a black man, get upset because Bernhard Goetz, a white man, shot four black youths who accosted him on a New York subway and was acquitted for doing it? Should I get upset and call the verdict, rendered by a jury, which included two blacks, racist?

No. While I don't approve of what Goetz did, I can understand his state of mind, and I suspect that he'd have done the same had the youths been white.

I'm saddened by blacks who can't empathize with the victim in this case. These black youths weren't pranksters. They were hoodlums. How they got that way is another story, but no reasonable person would sit still--if he had the means--and allow himself to get mugged by a bunch of hoods.

I in no way see this verdict as a signal to white bigots that it's OK to shoot a black youth or anybody else who accosts him. Indeed, I'd think the opposite is true. I wouldn't want to go through what Goetz has gone through in the last 2 1/2 years, and I doubt any reasonable person would either.

I'm a little suspicious of this whole situation. I suspect that had not Goetz been heralded as a "hero" by certain whites he'd have never been brought to trial.

ROBERT S. RODGERS

Culver City

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