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film reel image

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn 2020 * * * 1/2 Stars


"Yusuf! Yusuf! Yusuf! Yusuf!" That refers to fallen teenager and innocent bystander, Yusuf Hawkins. Objectors and marchers yell his name in the docu, Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn. Yup, it's my latest review. 

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn is just what it says it is. There was indeed a racial "storm" over New York City's most populous division circa August of 1989. This documentary, which feels as relevant today as it did when the actual events went down over thirty years ago, chronicles the untimely death of Hawkins. He was a black 16-year-old who was gunned down by some youths in a mostly white neighborhood via Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.  

The aftermath of Yusuf's demise involved many protests and marches in which the famous Reverend Al Sharpton was involved. What's even more eerie is that the racial tension sparked by Yusuf's shooting came just months after Spike Lee released his ode to The Borough of Homes and Churches in Do the Right Thing

"Storm Over Brooklyn" sans a sort of one-sided view, is a very well-made documentary that seems to have been released at the perfect time (or imperfect time). Growing up in Michigan in 1989, I was unaware of these events but now everything for me has come full circle. It's like this film predicted the future. Sadly, it seems almost nothing in this country has changed more than three decades later. 

"Storm Over Brooklyn's" director (Muta Ali Muhammad) shoots the docu with careful style, attention to detail, and some verve. He inserts neighborhood overhead shots, grainy archive footage, and interviews by the denizens that lived through the incident (Sharpton, Yusuf's mother and brothers, former NYC Mayor David Dinkins). Chronologically told and effectively intercut with the veil of present day, Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn is one of 2020's best offerings. "We will be back and that's is a fact". Rating: 3 and a half stars. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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