QUESTION: Crown Heights Riot

question / pregunta: 

Are there any radical texts about the Crown Heights Riot in 1991? I'm particularly interested in texts written in NYC around the time that they happened, but any radical text on the subject is welcome, particularly those dealing with anti-semitism and racism vis-a-vis the riot.


Here are some sources I found on the subject...

Shapiro, Edward S. 2006. Crown Heights: Blacks, Jews, and the 1991 Brooklyn Riot. (You can check out the contents on Google book search)

Goldschmidt, Henry. 2006. Race and Religion Among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights. Published by Rutgers University Press. (Also visible on Google book search)

Fortis, Cherie (Producer). Fires in the mirror [videorecording] : Crown Heights, Brooklyn and other identities
Summary: On Aug. 19, 1991 in Crown Heights (Brooklyn, N.Y.) a Hasidic man accidentally ran over a 7-year old Black boy (Gavin Cato). Three hours later a young Jewish scholar (Yankel Rosenbaum) was murdered by Black youths. Four days of fire-bombing and riots ensued. Utilizing verbatim excerpts from interviews she conducted, Anna Deavere Smith acts out the roles of 18 people involved in the racial conflict, trying to present the differing viewpoints. Includes actual film footage of the riots and violence. (Book with same name also available, written by Anna Deavere Smith)

Daughtry, Herbert. 1997. No monopoly on suffering : Blacks and Jews in Crown Heights and elsewhere.
When the black youngster Gavin Cato was struck and killed by the limousine escorting the local hasidic chief rabbi, and when shortly afterwards an Australian rabbinical student was murdered, the community in which these incidents occured, "Crown Heights" (part of Brooklyn, New York), became synonomous with Black-Jewish tensions, and achieved dubious international name recognition as an ostensible ethnic battleground.
Reverend Daughtry, long-time citizen of Brooklyn, and minister of The House of the Lord Pentecostal Church in a nearby neighborhood, characteristically became involved in the ensuing turmoil and media frenzy. The Crown Heights story was covered and predictably distorted by local and more widespread news organizations. Within the glaring spotlight of that coverage, Daughtry was frequently quoted, often inaccurately. Commonly, despite his denials and long experience seeking justice for all oppressed peoples, Daughtry was tarred with the ugly brush of anti-semitism.
This book is his attempt to set the record straight, to tell the true story of Crown Heights, and to relate it to similar stresses throughout the country, to respond to vicious charges leveled at him, and to interpret and clarify -- which he was rendered unable to do effectively at the time -- the ongoing relationship between two of New York's most sizeable and outspoken ethnic groups. Blacks and Jews live in physically close but, admittedly, often uneasy proximity in Crown Heights and elsewhere. Neither group has, nor does any group desire, a monopoly on victimization but both have invoked historical and contemporary suffering in the ongoing battle that is New York (and, increasingly, national)politics

Snitow, Alan; Kaufman, Deborah & Scott, Bari. 1997. Blacks & Jews [videorecording]
Summary:Early in the 20th century Afro-Americans and Jewish Americans joined forces against bigotry and for civil rights, but in the late 1960’s the coalition fell apart. This history and recent conflicts, along with attempts at understanding and reconciliation in New York and California are examined.

Finn, Brendan. 2006. A flashpoint in a melting pot : the Crown Heights riots of 1991. Thesis (M.A.) Queens College. Department of History.

The New York Times gives a great deal of insight into the event(s) and aftermath themselves... Also the papers The Jewish Week and The Jerusalem Post, but again it is more event coverage. Hope this was a start.

It is unfortunate that you have been disappointed with the results we have provided - though some of the materials listed by the archivist who provided the list found below are unique to the John Jay Library collection and might be worth a closer look as they are not all "mainstream" - and the best I personally can do to add to what is here is to suggest that you reach out to the folks at the ABC NoRio Zine Library or perhaps the Tamiment Library to see if they have some primary source materials related to the riots.

This is a challenging question, as such material is often not collected, to the extent that any documentation is produced.

David Dinkins, now a professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, became the first African-American elected to the office of New York City Mayor. He talks about New York twenty years ago--and this year's mayoral race.

Not sure if this provides the perspective you are looking for, but it is recent coverage of the riots.

More background on Crown Heights Riots

More references on the Crown Heights Riots:

Goldschmidt, Henry. Race and religion among the chosen peoples of Crown Heights / Henry Goldschmidt. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2006.

Daughtry, Herbert. No monopoly on suffering : Blacks and Jews in Crown Heights and elsewhere / Herbert D. Daughtry, Sr. Trenton, NJ : Africa World Press, c1997.

Fires in the mirror [videorecording] / conceived, written and performed by Anna Deavers Smith ; directed by George C. Wolfe. Alexandria, VA. : PBS Video, 1996,

New York (State). Division of Criminal Justice Services. A report to the Governor on the disturbances in Crown Heights / Richard H. Girgenti. Albany, N.Y. : New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Justice Systems Analysis, c1993.
Note: for discussion on the above report, see: Kiriakova, Maria (2005) “Crown Heights Report.” In, Sullivan, Larry and Rosen, Marie, (eds) Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Pp. 125-127.
Kifner, J. & Lee, F.R. (2001, August 19) “In Crown Heights, a decade of healing after the riots, but scars remain.” New York Times, p. A1. (available here:

Smith, Anna Deavere. Fires in the mirror : Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and other identities / Anna Deavere Smith ; with a foreword by Cornel West. New York : Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1993.

Crown Heights Coalition. Crown Heights : a strategy for the future / a report of the Crown Heights Coalition prepared in cooperation with the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden. [Brooklyn, N.Y. : Office of Brooklyn Borough President, 1992

Stern, Kenneth S. (Kenneth Saul), 1953- Crown Heights : a case study in anti-Semitism and community relations / Kenneth S. Stern. New York : American Jewish Committee, Institute of Human Relations, c1991.

Gellman, Harold. An investigation into participation of the Orthodox Jewish community in the anti-poverty programs of Crown Heights / by Harold Gellman. 1974.

I am aware of all of these

I am aware of all of these mainstream sources. My question was specifically about radical analysis of the riots. These sources do not answer the question at all.

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