U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Black Rage, Murder, Racism, and Madness: The Metamorphosis of Colin Ferguson (From Hate Crime: The Global Politics of Polarization, P 22-36, 1998, Robert J. Kelly and Jess Maghan, eds. -- See NCJ-179424)

NCJ Number
Robert J. Kelly
Date Published
15 pages
This essay discusses Colin Ferguson, the black man convicted of murdering 6 and wounding 19 people on a New York rush-hour commuter railroad.
The case is particularly interesting and relevant to the discussion of hate crimes because it raises issues that transcend the categories of psychiatric and sociocriminological analysis: Was Ferguson just a terribly sick and deranged man who happened to be black? Or did the racism he experienced, real or imagined -- or some complex mix of fantasy and actual experiences -- precipitate his mad, indiscriminate violence? The essay describes Ferguson’s early life as the son of middle-class parents in Kingston, Jamaica, and the effect of his parents’ deaths. Later, political crises and an economic downturn in Jamaica convinced him that his future would be brighter in New York. However, he had difficulties coping with the racism of American society, and never fully adjusted. He failed at work, at school, and at marriage. The essay considers the part these factors played in his ultimate deadly criminal behavior. Notes