Over the next few weeks, I’m going to continue looking back at the early 1990s New York City in which our movie takes place. And from whatever way you look at it – through memories of past New York, from anecdotal accounts, from art and from news coverage – crime, racial and ethnic tension, and police confrontations pervade this era of NYC history.
One of the defining events in this period was the unrest that occurred in the predominantly Black and Hasidic Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights in August, 1991. Two Guyanese-American children were hit, and one, Gavin Cato, was killed, by a runaway car driven by a Hasidic Jewish man, setting off an eruption of protests and violence that included the murder of a different, uninvolved Hasidic man, Yankel Rosenbaum. There was extensive news coverage of these days, and below see a selection of this coverage, including mayor David Dinkins’ appearance in Crown Heights in which he is booed by residents. Rudy Giuliani beat Mayor Dinkins in the following 1993 mayoral election, and many include the Crown Heights riots as a cause for his defeat, though ultimately it was the Jewish, not the Black, community who felt that Dinkins failed them.