Race, Ethnicity, and Crime: Alternate Perspectives

By Dianne Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1. RACE, ETHNICITY AND CRIMINALITY. IS THERE A
RELATIONSHIP?

OBJECTIVES
Develop a working definition of “race”
Develop a working definition of “ethnicity”
Understand the various theories of “criminality”
Identify a relationship between race, ethnicity and criminality

CASE STUDY: THE SUBWAY VIGILANTE

on December 23, 1984, a 37-year-old self-employed electrical engineer named Bernhard Goetz boarded a New York City subway, No. 2 express train. Mr. Goetz, a thin bespectacled White-American, found himself in the same car as four African-American teenagers—James Ramseur, 19, Darrell Cabey, 19, Troy Canty, 19, and Barry Allen, 18.

The story goes that 19-year-old Canty demanded five dollars from Goetz, and in response Goetz stood up, drew a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver from under his blue windbreaker, and began shooting. In the aftermath of the barrage of gunfire, all four teenagers were found wounded, two of them critically. Meanwhile, Goetz had exited the train, rented a car, and driven to Bennington, Vermont, where he proceeded to dispose of the pistol and the windbreaker in the woods. A week later, Goetz turned himself in. By then he was being fondly referred to as the “Subway Vigilante” and had become something of a national celebrity.

-3-

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