Check out this article in the NYTimes by Colin Moynihan.
20 Years After Unrest, Class Tensions Have Faded and Punk Rock Will Be Played.
By COLIN MOYNIHAN Published: August 2, 2008
The traditional gift for a 20th anniversary is something made of china. But this weekend, a moment from early August 1988 will be marked by bands with names like Team Spider, LeftÃ¶ver Crack and Death Mold.
That moment, branded ever since as the Tompkins Square riot, began on a steamy Saturday night as a demonstration against a park curfew. But it quickly turned into a melee between protesters and police officers that lasted until dawn.
â€œIt was one of the most exciting nights of my life,â€ said Jerry Wade, a squatter who helped lead the protests. Mr. Wade, known as Jerry the Peddler, is also organizing some of the commemorative events this weekend, which besides punk rock concerts include speeches and demonstrations scheduled to take place in or near the park, precisely the sort of events that irked some of the people living around it 20 years ago.
The confrontation over the 1 a.m. park curfew was fueled by concerns over issues including homelessness, gentrification and the future of the neighborhood. Squatters, artists, landlords, blue-collar families, merchants and young professionals all existed within blocks of the park. Tensions were heightened by the perception that newer and richer residents were displacing others with less money or political power.
To some East Village residents, the park had become a festering wound of drug use, homeless encampments and all-night music and parties. Responding to these complaints, the local community board voted to impose the curfew.
â€œThey hung out in the park all night with drinking and music galore,â€ said Philip C. LaLumia, a community board member. â€œThey called it music; we called it noise.â€
On the night of Aug. 6, more than 100 people showed up at the park to protest the curfew, drinking beer, lighting firecrackers and carrying banners with slogans like â€œGentrification is Class War.â€ Dozens of officers watched on foot and horseback, and around 12:30 a.m., some in the crowd began throwing bottles at the police.
From then until sunrise, officers battled with the crowd in and around the park, with the protesters hurling bottles and other debris, and the police using nightsticks and riot gear. Forty-four people were injured, 13 of them police officers.
A videographer, Clayton Patterson, captured police officers, some of whom removed or covered their badges and nameplates, severely beating protesters and passers-by. One onlooker was Robert Arihood, who said he was attacked several times by the police. For him, the looming anniversary and attending fanfare was stirring up uneasy memories of lying injured and motionless on Avenue A as officers taunted him. â€œI couldnâ€™t move,â€ he said. â€œI thought I was going to die.â€
Benjamin Ward, then the police commissioner, sharply criticized his force for losing control. Some commanders were reprimanded or forced into retirement; 14 officers were tried on brutality charges but none were convicted.
Twenty years later, the melee is both a cherished memory and a scar, with the protesters seen as either the romantic defenders of a losing cause or merely a collection of hooligans.
Most agree that the battle to keep the East Village affordable is now down to its last gasps. Studio apartments in the neighborhood now rent for about $2,000.
â€œThe mythology that was created by the resistance of the neighborhood was marketed,â€ said Paul DeRienzo, a radio reporter who broadcast for WBAI from Avenue A in 1988 as sirens and screams sounded in the background. â€œBy the early â€™90s the East Village was considered a hip place to live.â€
A local underground newspaper called The Shadow, which is sponsoring the concerts, is also assembling a special issue dedicated to stories of the conflict that will include an essay by Mr. Wade about how he helped coin a phrase that includes the words â€œour parkâ€ with a profane adjective separating them.
Another neighborhood paper, The Villager, published an essay by Bobby Steele, a musician who performed with the Misfits, criticizing another popular slogan of the day â€” Die, Yuppie scum â€” as hate speech.
That phrase and others have recently resurfaced on fliers wheat-pasted to lampposts and light poles. There are also fliers bearing an image of a winged bottle emblazoned with an anarchist symbol and the words â€œfly highâ€ and â€œhit hard,â€ which became widespread in the years after the melee.
Slogans aside, a replay of 1988 seems unlikely. Organizers followed city rules and secured permits for the Saturday and Sunday concerts, which will both be over before nightfall.
These days the parkâ€™s curfew is one hour earlier, but it is rarely a source of controversy.
As midnight came and went on Thursday, residents quietly walked their dogs through the darkness, and a man and woman played Frisbee where the band shell, the parkâ€™s center of gravity, once stood. No police officers turned up to kick out the curfew-breakers.
A half-dozen people interviewed there said they knew nothing about the events of Aug. 6 and 7, 1988. But four people sitting on a bench beneath the spreading limbs of an elm tree said they had heard of the melee, even though three of them had not even been born. The group was quietly sipping from 22-ounce bottles of Guinness and discussing the previous weekendâ€™s punk rock show in the park when mention of the curfew drew familiar objections.
â€œWe want to enjoy our park,â€ said Angela Phillips, 19. â€œWe want to be out here all night.â€ ——————————- Not only was this a case of gentrification being implemented by the NYPD’s raw end of the night stick, it is also one of the first major incidences in NYC history where rampant police misconduct was caught on video tape.
The major news networks, where most people formulate their opinions from, were all set to tell the story of wild junkies and crazed homeless people gone mad, were it not for the footage from people like Clayton Paterson and Paul Garrin who risked physical assault to get their footage out to the press.
Their video evidence told a more complete tale of cops not only attacking demonstrators, but anyone they felt “undesirable” including innocent by-standers. All in the name of paving the way for the East Village to be made suitable for over-priced luxury condominiums. Ah, progress.
Just like if there were no footage of the police “body-checking” cyclists in Time’s Square…most people would have no idea it even happened and Christopher Long would have a hard time explaining why he found the urge to attack a young innocent police officer.
Clayton Paterson’s documentary, Captured will premiere at Webster Hall August 5th at 7pm. This film was too controversial, and not “New York enough” for the Tribeca Film Festival.
August 2nd, 2008 | Category: General | Comments are closed
From its abysmal record on human rights of the Tibetan people to its atrocious impact on the world’s environment, Bike Blog will proudly NOT be reporting on anything from the 2008 olympic games in an online boycott.
You’ll have to tune into Katie Couric and the king of all dorks Matt Lauer in their gas masks for your NBC olympic coverage.
Good luck finding any cycling coverage anyway, because it will most likely be ignored to a much more important sport like swimming or rhythmic gymnastics.
and for those who think the Olympic games are not a place to discuss politics read this article from the Nation, and remember the propaganda fest of the 1936 Berlin Games: “Sieg Heil” Rage Against the Machine said it best: “Fists in the air in the land of hypocracy” and Tommie Smith and John Carlos lost their medals for that? Come on.
Cops Lie? What? I know its hard to believe that our fine men and woman in blue would do such a despicable thing…but its true…come on, we all watch SVU, the wire, CSI New York. Its part of police work, part of getting the “bad guy.”
We’ve speculated on what motivated 22 year old officer Patrick Pogan to pull out a defensive move from his high school football play book that sent cyclist Christopher Long crashing to the sidewalk. All kidding aside, this third generation cop did what he did because he didn’t think anyone would catch it on video tape, and even if they did, he could always lie about it.
How do we know this? Besides, my own experiences at dozens of protests across the country and tireless hours of scrambling to get video footage to the press to prove the point, its happened again on this current case from a youtube video which now has over 1 million views.
Back in 2005, Jim Dwyer of the New York Times did a story on how police lied about RNC demonstrator Dennis Kayne, being so erratic that it took 4 officers to haul him away. Video footage turned up a different story, showing Dennis, agitated but clearly walking away on his own.
Its a common story, and again Times Reporter Jim Dwyer had an article in yesterday’s times about how low cost video cameras are telling a different story than the police.
Without this video footage, taken by a random tourist in Time’s Sqaure and without 1 million views of it on youtube…the assumption is the police would be sticking to their story that Christopher Long was weaving in and out of traffic, endangering pedestrians and eventually knocked into the officer, sending him to the ground. The video shows a different story.
I witness video, an organization set up to monitor police and capture video footage of their behavior has been following this story on their blog.
Here is a link to the NYTimes blog explaining how the video tape of the Time’s Square incident was acquired. From cityroom
The bigger picture here are the lies the police continue to spin about the critical mass ride itself.
1) that is is violent with the sole purpose of blocking traffic. 2) that it was fine for 10 years, to the point of the RNC (2004) when it was taken over by anarchists. 3) it has a leader, and Critical Mass is a group of people.
Like the recent tale from the police on last Friday’s ride. All Lies.
Time’s Up, also wanted me to include this press release about this recent affair:
New York, NY (July 29, 2008) – The body slam of cyclist Christopher Long by an NYPD police officer while Mr. Long was riding his bicycle through Times Square on July 28, 2008 was not an isolated incident. Civil rights activists and cycling advocates have long seen a pattern of excessive force and harassment against cyclists from the highest ranks of the NYPD. The event on July 28, 2008 was the third such example captured on video in Times Square alone.
On March 30, 2007, Richard Vazquez was riding in a Shared Use Lane on Broadway and 43rd Street in the Critical Mass ride. Without clear or reasonable direction, Sgt. Horohoe, violently pushed him off his bicycle to the ground in a dangerous and harmful manner. Among his other injuries, the fall to the ground resulted in a deep gash on Mr. Vazquez’s hand. The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) investigation resulted in a finding of ‘substantiation’ against Sgt. Horohoe for excessive force being used against Richard Vazquez. Mr. Vazquez is represented by Wylie Stecklow, (212) 566-8000.
On February 24, 2006, Adrienne Wheeler, was riding on the Critical Mass as a legal observer for the National Lawyers’ Guild. Ms. Wheeler was riding on 43rd Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue when she was grabbed by the bicycle chain around her waist and pushed to the ground by the then-NYPD-Assistant-Chief Bruce Smolka. Ms. Wheeler’s civil rights case against The City of New York, Asst. Chief Bruce Smolka and Lt. Caneco arising out of the incident was settled earlier this year for $37,000. She was represented by Jonathan Moore of Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP, (212 ) 277-5850. Assistant Chief Smolka announced his retirement from the NYPD in January, 2007.
“Unfortunately the July 25, 2008 incident is part of a pattern of targeting Critical Mass bike riders. This hostility and selective enforcement of the laws needs to stop immediately. Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly need to provide the necessary leadership to confront and resolve this issue.” states Civil Rights attorney, Norman Siegel.
Animal Magazine has done some good investigation to find out more about the motivations of NYPD Patrick Pogan featured in the hot new youtube video of cyclist brutality, which now has 583,692 views.
“The video of rookie cop Patrick E. Pogan (shield #28957) violently body checking cyclist Christopher Long during a Critical Mass group ride has a lot of people wondering what motivated him to act with such a blatantly egregious manner. Contrary to the video evidence and universal common sense, the cop (deponent) claimedâ€”in a sworn statementâ€”that Long swerved and then ran into him, “causing deponent to fall to the ground and causing deponent to suffer lacerations on deponent’s forearms” (PDF doc here). However, as the clip demonstrates, that’s not the case and the attack was unprovoked. Why is Officer Perjurer Pogan so angry? ANIMAL takes a look into some of the potential, hostility-causing factors: