Kill For Cool In New York City

category: > Features, > History Now/Then

written by: Jaap Proost

THERE is always a kind of friction between the Haves and Have-Not’s. Sometimes that friction erupts in deadly violence. The cause can be a loaf of bread or a pair of Cazal glasses. Digging the archive of the New York Times I found a couple of cases were people had to pay with their lives for following the latest trend.


Like on 02/15/1984 when ‘a 17-year-old youth was stabbed to death for his designer-frame eyeglasses. According to detectives, the victim, Henry Breed of 1011 East 212th Street, the Bronx, had been walking on Broadway, near 204th Street, at 4:15 P.M. Monday when he was accosted by five youths who grabbed his Cazal eyeglass frames. Sgt. John Boyle of the 34th Detective Squad said the teen-ager had resisted, and in the struggle was fatally stabbed. An optometrist said that Cazal frames were a ”hot craze” among teen-agers. Glasses cost about $125.’

Or on the 09/27/1997 when ‘the police said, Mr. Thomas and Christopher Bruce, a 16-year-old fellow gang member, decided that what was Mr. Vaughn’s should be theirs. They approached him about 3 P.M. at the Ralph Avenue subway station on the A line, chased him into a tunnel and stole his Air Jordans and beeper. Somehow Mr. Vaughn hit his head, and his assailants left him on the tracks, semiconscious as a train approached, the police said. He was killed when the train ran over him.’

And on 02/21/2001 ‘Ismael Mazran, 25, was near the pond about 100 feet from an entrance at the northeast corner of the park, at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue. The two were approached about 12:30 a.m. by three men in their late teens or early 20’s, one of whom had a gun, according to the police. After demanding Mr. Mazran’s down North Face bubble jacket and a chain he was wearing, the woman told police, one of the men suddenly shot Mr. Mazran in the head.’

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