Bernie Goetz's big pot bust

Here’s a name we don’t see in the news very often these days… Bernhard Goetz. The so called “Subway Vigilante” from the 1980s wound up on the front pages of New York’s papers this week when he was arrested in a “drug bust.”

Bernhard Goetz — the infamous “subway vigilante” who became part of New York City lore when he shot four youths who he said were threatening him on the subway in 1984 — was busted Friday evening for peddling $30 worth of pot to an undercover female cop, The Post has learned.

Goetz was arrested at 15th Street and Fifth Avenue near his Union Square pad at about 5:45 p.m., police sources said.

“He told her he wanted to get high with her and sold her a small amount of pot in a ­tissue,” a source said.

Goetz, 65, met the undercover on the street, chatted her up and walked with her back to his apartment, where he went upstairs to get the weed.
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Bernie Goetz is escorted by police in 1985.

When he came downstairs to allegedly give her the pot, he was arrested, the source said.

What he did is technically still against the law (and fairly stupid to boot) so I suppose there isn’t too much to complain about here, but it still seems like a fairly crappy arrest. And yes, I know I’m being something of a hypocrite here, but that’s fine. Bernie was a character who loomed rather large in my family back in my Navy days and still causes controversy and questions to this day. For all the controversy it caused – and still causes – Goetz was something of a folk hero to both my dad and I back in the day, and I don’t apologize for always having something of a soft spot in my heart for him.

He’s been through a lot of ups and downs since that fateful day on the Number 2 Train, and hasn’t had the easiest of rides. He ran for Mayor of New York once, and a couple of other offices as well. He started his own security company which I believe was fairly successful over the years, but never to the point of making him wealthy. He certainly has his quirks and I’m sure we don’t agree on everything (such as his vegan lifestyle) but the guy woke a lot of people up to the fact that the police aren’t always there when bad people come to do bad things. So how did Bernie’s neighbors react to the arrest?

“Bernie? Oh, come on, they arrested him for that? It’s just pot, they should let him go,” said doorman John D’Antonia, 71, who works in a building near Goetz’s.

“People will now probably say he shot those kids because he was high.”

Kind of sad, but if nothing else, it’s a reason to remember Bernie Goetz and the small part he played in the long story of gun owner rights in America. And on that subject, it’s worth reminding people that after the subway shooting incident, Goetz was charged with attempted murder and first-degree assault. His fate was placed in the hands of a jury, and the only thing they found him guilty of was carrying a loaded, unlicensed weapon in a public place.