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In 1964 the press was scandalized with the murder of a woman barkeep. The Times reported the incident in such a manner that the people understood that the victim was stabbed in front of thirty-eight witnesses that did nothing. Now, fifty-two years later, a documentary called ‘The Witness’ presents us the true story of Kitty Genovese.
According to her family, Kitty Genovese was a pleasant, lively person. She was a popular girl in her high school in Brooklyn being voted “class cut-up” in her senior year.
Genovese was a woman ahead of her times. After graduating high school, she decided not to follow her family to the suburbs. Instead, she remained in New York where she got a barkeep job. The woman was happily living with her female flatmate, who was also her lover.
In the documentary created by James Solomon, ‘The Witness’, Bill Genovese, the brother of the victim tries to tell the true story of Kitty Genovese. The documentary is narrated by him, and, unfortunately, he doesn’t focus on her wonderful life, but rather on her gruesome death.
On a 1964 night, while walking back from her job, Kitty was murdered in cold blood near her Kew Gardens apartment. It seems that the attack was random, the victim being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, the shocking element of the entire story of Kitty Genovese is the fact that there were lots of witnesses on the streets. What made the headlines of all of the important papers from back in the day wasn’t the fact that a woman was stabbed to death in Queens, rather the one that all of the people who were there did nothing to aid her.
The apathy of the presumed thirty-eight witnesses is still a subject of focus in sociology and psychology classes that analyze the abnormality of human behavior during dangerous situations.
Martin Gansberg, a respectable journalist for the New York Times, reported at the time that all of the witnesses that heard her screams at 3 in the morning simply went back to sleep.
“For Many years, I didn’t know much more than what was written in that story. My family did not go to Moseley’s trial, and we stayed out of the limelight,” Bill declared.
‘The Witness’ is a fascinating documentary on both human nature and the true story of Kitty Genovese.