The Crown Heights Riot Essay

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The Crown Heights Riot

The Crown Heights Riot was a riot that occurred in August, 1991 and lasted for three days. The riots took place in the Crown Heights environs within the New York City Borough of Brooklyn. This city was residence to about 180 000 citizens, comprising of West Indies (0. 5), African-Americans (0. 39) as well as residents of Jewish origin (0. 11). These riots commenced on August 19, 1991 following an incidence where a Guyanese boy was accidentally hit by a vehicle within the motorcade of a famous Hasidic rabbi. The youngster died thereafter of his injuries.

Some members of the Jewish society viewed the riot as a Pogrom whereas one historian represented the ensuing riot as “the most serious anti-Semitic incidence in American history. ” (Shapiro 53) The riot was immediately precipitated by an incidence which occurred at about 8. 20 p. m on August 19, 1991 in which 22-year-old Josef Lifsh was driving West on President Street, section of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, thereafter, chief of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic cult while carrying three passengers. An unmarked police van with two detectives and its rooftop blaze blinking, led the procession.

Lifsh’s vehicle was left behind. He went on through the junction at Utica Avenue and President Street in an effort to rejoin the grouping. Onlookers were astonished by his speed and could not come to an agreement whether he was obeying the street lights. His car then hit a van along Utica Avenue which swerved onto the footpath, hit a 600 pound sandstone construction pillar down, knocked a wall, and killed Gavin Cato, a seven-year-old youngster of Guyanese origin whereas his seven-year-old cousin, Angela Cato, survived with severe injuries.

(Mayer 300) Because of the police escort, Lifsh thought that he had the right of way to progress through the junction. He said that he intentionally steered his vehicle away from grown-ups on the footpath, in the direction of the barricade, a distance of approximately 22. 9 meters in a bid to stop the car. Upon impact with the building, Lifsh’s car did not come to a complete halt, but somewhat it slid to the left alongside the barricade till it reached the kids. (Brennan 112)

Explanations differ as to what happened after the collision with Lifsh saying that the foremost thing he did was to attempt to lift the vehicle in an effort to free the two youngsters underneath it. Approximately three minutes afterward, The EMS unit that pulled into the scene alleged that Lifsh was being hit and dragged out of the station automobile by around four black men. All explanations concur that Lifsh was beaten prior to police and ambulances arrival. (Mayer 280) The Hatzolah driver was directed to take Lifsh away from the sight for his own safety, whilst Gavin Cato was being removed from underneath the station wagon.

According to the New York Times, approximately more than 250 inhabitants from the neighborhood, generally black youngsters, a great majority of whom were yelling “Jews! Jews! Jews! ” heckled the driver of the vehicle and subsequently turned their rage on the police. A number of community members were angered due to the fact that Lifsh was removed from the sight by a private ambulance service whereas city emergency employees were still attempting to free the youngsters who were stuck underneath the car.

A number of them believed that Gavin Cato passed away since the Hatzolah ambulance squad was not willing to help non-Jews. At the time, there was a rumor that Lifsh was intoxicated which compounded their rage although an alcohol breath test which was administered within I hour and 10 minutes after the incidence pointed out that, this was not the truth. Other false reports that spread soon after the occurrence indicated that Lifsh did not possess a driving license, was using his mobile phone as well as the fact that the police stopped the public, together with Gavin Cato’s father, from aiding in the rescue.

(Brennan 112) Soon after, on that same evening, while the multitude and gossips grew, citizens started to protest the handling of the youngsters by throwing rocks and bottles. At approximately 11. 00 p. m, somebody yelled, “Let’s go to Kingston Avenue and get a Jew! ” A group of black adolescences subsequently set off to Kingston, a lane of mainly Jewish inhabitants which was a number of blocks away. As they went, they vandalized vehicles and heaved rocks and bottles. (Shapiro 67) Conflicting viewpoints were reported in the community after the death of Gavin Cato.

The black community members supposed that the verdict to remove Lifsh from the sight first was ethnically aggravated. In addition, the multitude also upheld that, this was an instance of a perceived system of special handling given to Jews in Crown Heights. The favored handling was reported to comprise prejudiced measures by law enforcement as well as allotments of government property among others. In addition, a great majority of the black community members were worried about the increase of Jews shifting into the environs, supposing that the Jews were acquiring all of the possessions. (Mayer 299)

The Jewish community members did had a different view. A great majority believed that there were no facts to support the accusations of discrimination made by blacks. Some studies refuted the accusations, together with one study which was carried out particularly in response to this accusation. In the Jewish society, it was extensively believed that these accusations were an effort to cover unconcealed anti-Semitism committed in opposition to the Jews throughout the riot. For instance, anti-Semitic declarations made by activists all through the rioting as well as remarks made at Gavin Cato’s memorial service were pointed out.

In Gavin’s Eulogy at the memorial service, the Rev. Al Sharpton commented about “diamond dealers” and remarked “it’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of Crown Heights. ” also, a banner exhibited at the memorial service read “Hitler did not do the job. (Brennan 112) About three hours subsequent to the riot’s commencement, Yankel Rosenbaum, a 29-year-old University of Melbourne scholar in the United States doing research for his doctorate was surrounded by around 20 young black men who stabbed him a number of times in the back and hit him so brutally that his skull got broken.

Rosenbaum was able to recognize 16-year-old Lemrick Nelson, Jr. as his attacker in a line-up display to him by the police force prior to being taken to the hospice. Later that night, Rosenbaum passed away and Nelson was accused of murder and found not guilty, although afterward he was found guilty of infringing Rosenbaum’s civil rights. Eventually, Nelson confessed that he had certainly stabbed Rosenbaum. (Shapiro 64) For a period of three days subsequent to the accident, several Caribbean Americans as well as African-Americans of the vicinity united by mounting figures of non-residents and rioted in Crown Heights.

In the rioting of the following three days, lots of of the rioters “did not even live in crown heights. ” (Mayer 300) Stores were plundered, homes and cars smashed and Jews wounded during the riots. Jewish residences were identified by the rioters by the mezuzot fixed to the front doorways. Hauling anti-Semitic symbols, the rioters matched all the way through crown heights and set a blaze an Israel flag. They hurled bottles as well as bricks at the police, fired shots at the police, overturned and bombarded police cars, together with the police commissioner’s van. (Shapiro 53)

In an effort to suppress the rioting in Crown Heights, an extra 350 police officers were attached to the usual duty register on August 20. An additional 1,200 police officials were sent to deal with rioters in Crown Heights following incidences of rock-and bottle tossing which involved hundreds of Jews and blacks, as well as after grouping of blacks protested all the way through Crown Heights singing “No Justice, No Peace! ”, “Death to the Jews! ”, as well as “Whose Streets! ”. A detachment of around 200 police force representatives had to back away for their safety as a result of the extent to which the riots escalated.

Over 1,800 law enforcement officials, as well as mounted and motorcycle elements, had been posted to stop the assaults on citizens as well as on possessions by August, 22. (Brennan 112) By the moment the three days of rioting came to an end, 38 civilians and 152 law enforcement officers were wounded, seven stores plundered and set on fire, 27 motor vehicles were smashed as well as 225 cases of burglary and robbery committed. Through the riots, Approximately 129 captures were made which included 7 white and 122 blacks. Property damage was projected at approximately one million US dollars.

(Brennan 111& 112) A grant panel of judges comprising of 5 Latinos, 8 Caucasians and 10 African- Americans found no reason to charge Lifsh. Charles J. Hynes, the then District Attorney clarified that under New York law, the solitary act of “loosing control of a car” is not criminal neglect even if it resulted to injury or death. Lifsh waived invulnerability and swore before the grand panel of judges. The grand jury designated not to charge him approximately an hour afterward after listening to his testimony. Lifsh’s life was threatened and he consequently moved to Israel, where his kin resides.

(Mayer 321) The Crown Heights impacted on the mayoral race of the year 1993. “The repercussions of the Crown Heights riot, based on the official indifference to the plight of Jews, contributed directly to the defeat of the incumbent mayor of New York,” declared David Dinkins. He was attacked by lots of political opponents in his re-election proposition, comprising vocal supporters of “black nationalism, back-to-Africa, economic radicalism, and racial exclusiveness. ” The Crown Heights riot was an essential subject raised constantly on the campaign trail.

Rudolph Giuliani, who would turn out to be the succeeding mayor of New York, dubbed the Crown Heights riot a “pogrom” for the reason that “for three days people were beaten up, people were sent to the hospital because they were Jewish. There’s no question that not enough was done about it by the city of New York. ” (Mayer 301) Relations among Jews and blacks in Crown Heights started to get better more or less instantaneously following the rioting. President of Howard Golden, Brooklyn Borough called upon the leaders of each one of the cultural societies to Borough Hall within days once the riots came to an end.

This formed what turned out to be the Crown Heights Coalition. In 1998, the Crown Heights Mediation Center was set up to aid resolve local discrepancies, which was as well a direct result of the coalition. On August 19, 2001, a fair was held in the street in remembrance of Rosenbaum and Cato, and their family got together and exchanged coupons of optimism of healing within Crown heights. (Brennan 112& 113) Finally, the aftermath of the Crown Heights Riots was that the Jews did not run away from Crown Heights after August 1991.

In actual fact, the Lubavitch populace of Crown Heights enlarged after the riot, the region in which they live has stretched, not to forget that values of property in the region have risen spectacularly. (Shapiro 85) Works Cited Brennan, Timothy. At home in the world: cosmopolitanism now. Harvard University Press, 1997. ISBN: 0674050312, 9780674050310 Mayer, Ruth. Artificial Africas: colonial images in the times of globalization. UPNE, 2002. ISBN: 58465192X, 9781584651925 Shapiro, Edward S. Crown Heights: Blacks, Jews, and the 1991 Brooklyn riot. UPNE, 2006. ISBN: 1584655615, 9781584655619

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