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Brooklyn Street Renamed For Yusuf Hawkins, Black Teen Killed In Racially Motivated 1989 Attack

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Brooklyn street was renamed for Yusuf Hawkins on Friday, more than 30 years after he was shot to death in a racially motivated attack in Bensonhurst.

The renaming ceremony at the corner of Verona Place and Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant fell on what would have been Hawkins' 48th birthday, CBS2's Kevin Rincon reported.

Hawkins was 16 when he was killed on August 23, 1989. He was attacked by a group of white teenagers.

Police said it was racially motivated. At the time, they said the group thought Hawkins was dating a girl in the neighborhood. He wasn't.

He was there with friends to see a used car he wanted to buy.

Nearly 32 years later, a street corner is now co-named in his honor.

"You may see me crying, but these are tears of joy to see my son's name up there," said Diane Hawkins.

"Anybody that walks down Fulton Avenue and Verona Place/Yusuf Kirriem Hawkins Way now, hey, take a look, turn to the mural, and look up in the sky because he's looking down on all of us," said Yusuf's brother Amir Hawkins.

His brother's death sparked a movement filled with calls for justice, equality and demonstrations that mirror a lot of what we see today.

The attack on Hawkins was the subject of an HBO documentary directed by Muta'Ali.

"The moral arc bends towards justice, as they say. But it bends a little slowly, and there's another arc that bends towards injustice. And we need to push together to make sure we head towards justice as quickly as possible," he said.

For this family, the pain is still real. And they understand the need for change.

"This has got to stop. I hope it stops soon. Everybody needs to love one another and bring peace," Diane Hawkins said.

"We can spend time on this Earth hating each other and the question is, for what? Because once we die, we're gone. And I refuse to spend the rest of whatever time I have here on Earth hating someone for no reason," Amir Hawkins said.

The family said it's their hope the street sign and mural can offer a reminder of where we've been and where we need to go.

CBS2's Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.

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