For three days, demonstrators clashed in the streets of Crown Heights, when, from Aug. 19-21, 1991, racial tension gave way to violence, looting and destruction of homes and property.
Riots broke out after two 7-year-old children of Guyanese immigrants were struck by a car in a motorcade for a leader of a Jewish sect. One child, Gavin Cato, was killed, and the second, Angela Cato,was severely injured in the crash. This event sparked violent tension between black and Jewish communities in the Brooklyn neighborhood.Yankel Rosenbaum, a Hasidic scholar visiting from Australia, was stabbed to death just hours after the children were struck.
On Friday,Rosenbaum’s brother Norman reportedly visited the spot where he was killed. On Sunday there was also the One Crown Height event to mark the anniversary. But Rosenbaum’s brother was critical of the festival.
“It’s insensitive,” he told ABC7, adding that its flier mentions “the events of Aug. 20, 1991,” not to the actual violence. “It’s a trivialization of a very, very serious period of time, of a series of incidents culminating in my brother’s murder.”
One of the organizers, Devorah Halberstam, whose 16-year-old son was killed on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994 in a shooting aimed at a vanload of Jewish students, told ABC7 that her “total intention in this was to do right by Yankel and Gavin Cato.” She added that she wanted to bring people together in a positive way to unite and move forward as they marked the anniversary.