United States - Whites began the process of putting Black Americans, mostly young men, in jail in massive waves of arrests. The pretense was that there was a crime problem and a drug problem. This combined with the supposed HIV/AIDS scare, which was targeted at Black American women.
New York, New York - The Cosby Show first aired on NBC, at 8:00 p.m. EST. It showed the middle-class aspirations of Black Americans.
The format of the show was a situation comedy (or sitcom). It was an immediate hit. While NBC lagged behind ABC and NBC in viewers, The Cosby Show was a ratings powerhouse.
Dr. William H. Cosby, who created and starred in the show, wanted to present Black Americans in a good light. Black Americans were presented as well-adjusted and well-off.
Cosby's portrayal of Black Americans was mere fantasy, or wish-fulfillment. Whites used this image to justify the end of affirmative action. A TV show gave whites the excuse to deny Black Americans were suffering under their oppression.
The show ended the day after the Rodney King riots began.
Washington, D. C. - The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 was signed into law. It took immediate effect. This was the first Federal law that began the era of Mass Incarceration. It targeted Black American men and boys, for jail and prison.
This act enabled the notorious mandatory minimum sentences. It eliminated Federal parole. Civil forfeiture powers were expanded.
The second act was the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. It created the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Black Americans were charged with crack. Whites were charged with powder cocaine. Black Americans suffered 100 times longer time in jail and prison compared to whites, for the same act.
The third act was the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. It restored the death penalty to Federal sentences, which focused on Black American men.
The final act of Federal law, was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994). It expanded the Federal Death Penalty. Higher education for inmates was eliminated. The three-strikes provision was added to court sentences.
New York, New York - Bernhard Goetz shot four (4) Black Americans, on a subway car. The four (4) victims were Barry Allen, Troy Canty, James Ramseur, and Darrell Cabey.
Four (4) youths rode on a subway train, in Manhattan. Three (3) were 19 years of age. One (1) was 18 years of age. They planned to steal quarters from coin-operated video game machines.
At the 14th Street station, Goetz boarded the train. He took a seat next to the youths. There were fifteen (15) to twenty (20) other people in the subway car.
Cabey told Goetz to give him five (5) dollars. Goetz asked him to repeat what he said. Cabey said it again. Goetz stood. He pulled a revolver from his jacket. Goetz held the gun with both hands, and took a shooting stance. He then shot all four (4) victims.
The youths had no weapons and were unarmed. They made no verbal threats. Goetz had the gun illegally. Before the shooting, Goetz had weapons and target training. Goetz made no attempt to get out of the area before the shooting.
Goetz shot in rapid fire, on a crowded subway train. Cabey was left paralyzed for life. The shooting created a panic on the train, as other riders ran and ducked for safety.
Once the car stopped, the conductor asked Goetz if he was a police worker. Goetz said no. The conductor asked for the gun. Goetz refused, jumped off the train to the tracks below, and ran.
Goetz fled New York City to dispose of the gun. He returned to get some things and fled again to New Hampshire. On December 31, Goetz turned himself into the police in Concord, New Hampshire.
On April 7, 1987, the trial began. On June 16, Goetz was found guilty, by a mostly white jury. The white judge gave Goetz a six (6) months, in prison. On appeal, the setence was changed to one (1) year. Goetz only served eight (8) months.
The four (4) Black American victims sued the white shooter, Goetz, in civil court. The judgments went over $50 million. Years later, Goetz was asked about it. He said, as far as he knew, he paid not one penny.