Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kitty Genovese apathy story was pretty much made up

From the NY Post:

At 3:15 on the morning of March 13, 1964, a 28-year-old bar manager named Kitty Genovese drove her red Fiat into the parking lot of the LIRR station by her Kew Gardens home.

As she walked home — she was only about “a hundred paces away” from the apartment she shared with her girlfriend, Mary Ann Zielonko — she heard a man’s footsteps close behind her. She ran, but the man, Winston Moseley, was too quick. He caught her, slammed her to the ground and stabbed her twice in the back. She screamed twice, once yelling, “Oh, God! I’ve been stabbed!”

Across the street, a man named Robert Mozer heard Genovese from his apartment. Looking out his seventh-floor window, he saw a man and a woman, sensed an ­altercation — he couldn’t see exactly what was happening — and yelled out his window, “Leave that girl alone!”

Moseley later testified that Mozer’s action “frightened” him, sending him back to his car. At this point, Genovese was still alive, her wounds nonfatal.

Fourteen-year-old Michael Hoffman, who lived in the same building as Mozer, also heard the commotion. He looked out his window and told his father, Samuel, what he saw. Samuel called the police, and after three or four minutes on hold, he reached a police dispatcher. He related that a woman “got beat up and was staggering around,” and gave them the location.

Other neighbors heard something as well, but it wasn’t always clear what. Some looked out the window to see Moseley scurrying away, or Genovese, having stood up, now walking slowly down the block, leaning against a building. From their vantage point, it wasn’t obvious that she was wounded. Others who looked didn’t see her at all, as Genovese walked around a corner, trying to make her way home at 82-70 Austin St.

But the police did not respond to Samuel Hoffman’s call, and Moseley, seeing no help was imminent, returned. He hunted down Genovese — who had made it to a vestibule in her building before collapsing — stabbed her several more times, then raped her.

Word of the attack spread though the building. A woman named Sophie Farrar, all of 4-foot-11, rushed to the vestibule, risking her life in the process. For all she knew, the attacker might have still been there. As luck would have it, he was not, and Farrar hugged and cradled the bloodied Genovese, who was struggling for breath.

Despite the attempts of various neighbors to help, Moseley’s final stab wounds proved fatal, and Farrar did her best to comfort Genovese in the nightmarish ­final minutes of her life.

The murder of Kitty Genovese shifted from crime to legend a few weeks later, when The New York Times erroneously reported that 38 of her neighbors had seen the attack and watched it unfold without calling for help.

The Times piece was followed by a story in Life magazine, and the narrative spread throughout the world, running in newspapers from Russia and Japan to the Middle East.

New York became internationally infamous as a city filled with thoughtless people who didn’t care about one another; where people could watch their neighbors get stabbed on the street without lifting a finger to help, leaving them to die ­instead in a pool of their own blood.

The people of Kew Gardens — before that, a relatively crime-free neighborhood where few bothered locking their doors — were referred to in the press as monsters.

But as journalist Kevin Cook details in his new book, “Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America” (W.W. Nor­ton), some of the real thoughtlessness came from a police commissioner who lazily passed a falsehood to a journalist, and a media that fell so deeply in love with a story that it couldn’t be bothered to determine whether it was true.


J said...

so it turns out it was a police apathy story.Maybe if kitty died instantly,the cops would have came sooner,which is how the cops prevent crime these days.Try calling the cops when some thug or mentally ill person is just menacing you,they will laugh at your face or call you a pussy for not using your fists.

It may have saved the residents of that time further notoriety,but it doesn't absolve an infinite amount of willful indifference by cowardly citizens of the past 54 years by permitting the crimes and enabling the mob and the gangs in the 5 boros.Also, the ignorance and apathy of voters who put corrupt scoundrels in government.

but like some dumbshit will lazily tell you to justify all this...

"hey man,it's New York"


Anonymous said...

And this "story" became the heart of a Phil Ochs folk/Protest song:

Oh, look outside the window, there's a woman being grabbed
They've dragged her to the bushes and now she's being stabbed

Maybe we should call the cops and try to stop the pain
But Monopoly is so much fun, I'd hate to blow the game

And I'm sure
it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends.

Anonymous said...

This was the original story that was too good to "fact check".

Even today "Thirty-Eight Witnesses" by A.M. Rosenthal is published without a disclaimer of its factual errors.

Anonymous said...

The Times reported on the republishing of the Rosenthal book last year and declined to correct the errors. It's the home of Walter Duranty after all. The NY Times has always crapped on Queens, although they have an article on 'cool' Brooklyn every week.

Anonymous said...

Queens people apathetic?


They keep their elected on their toes to ensure that communities look better today than 50 years ago.

Its true!

Anonymous said...

Read Cialdini's book