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Hoodlums Terrorize Subway Riders in NYC

May 31, 1964 - Twenty young hoodlums terrorized and robbed passengers and vandalized an IND elevated train in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn early today.

About an hour earlier, two youths and two men had cowed a motorman and passengers on two BMT trains near Prospect Park, threatening them with a meat cleaver.

Last night, a 17-year-old white youth was stabbed on an IND train from Coney Island when he refused, according to the police, to give five Negro youths $10 and play his transistor radio for them.

On Saturday night, 20 teenagers ran wildly about on a Staten Island ferry, dancing and shouting at passengers. They swept food and drinks off the refreshment counter and took $90 from the cash register.

Sixteen of the subway marauders operating early this morning were arrested. All were Negroes, mainly teenagers, and the police had to intervene to prevent reprisals by white persons.

The most serious fracas occurred at 2:30 a.m. on the IND “D” train, on the elevated run between Coney Island and the Kings Highway station. The youngsters, who got on at Coney Island, beat and robbed white passengers and smashed window and light bulbs.

At Kings Highway, the motorman stopped the train to go for help. One passenger, 17-year-old Howard Weiner, tried to leave the train and was struck on the head with a bottle and knocked unconscious. He was robbed of his wrist wash and cash.

According to his mother, young Howard was saved from further injuries by a passerby who came to his aid.

Mrs. Pearl Weiner said her son had told her that “an 18-year-old Negro boy who was not one of the gang yelled ‘Beat it, the cops are coming,’ and they ran away.” She said the police did not arrive until later.

“Howard didn’t even know him, but that boy was a hero,” Mrs. Weiner said of the stranger. The youth’s name was withheld by the police. The victim was taken to Coney Island Hospital for treatment of a cerebral concussion.

Nicholas Philippides, 54, was also treated at the hospital. A passenger on the IND train, he suffered cuts and bruises when he was pummeled by the hoodlums.

“I’m lucky I’m alive,” the 5-7 200-pound man said. “One guy grabbed me from the front and the other from the back, and another one punched me and broke my glasses. I got outside, but one guy grabbed me by the belt and pulled me back in the car. They went for my wallet and stole $97.

“I tried to come out again, and they knocked me down on the platform and kicked me. I was so scared I didn’t get up. I think if I tried to do something to them, they’d kill me.”

Brooklyn D.A. Edward Silver today ordered an investigation into the subway riots and said some kind of alarm system must be installed on subway trains. “Arresting these people and putting them in jail doesn’t help their victims,” Silver said. “Preventive work must be done. I know you can’t have a cop in every car, but the safety of the riding public comes first.”

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