Crown Heights marches 20 years after uprising

The 71st Precinct Council held a parade in Crown Heights Sunday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Crown Heights uprising and also display the unity which has since existed between the once-divided Brooklyn communities.

Jamaica’s Jah Paul Haughton, a grand marshall at the anniversary parade, marched with representatives of the Jewish community in recognition of the two lives lost during the worrisome period. An uproar started when seven-year-old Guyana native, Gavin Cato, and 29-year-old Australian, rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum died.

Crown heights erupted on Aug. 19, 1991 when a station wagon following Lubavitcher, Jewish leader, rebbe Menachim Schneerson ran a red light, hit and killed the young, Guyanese boy.

The car driven by Yosef Lifsch also struck and seriously injured seven-year-old Angelo Cato who was playing on the sidewalk. Reportedly, he lost control of his vehicle, which careened off the street, jumped the curb pinning her underneath the vehicle.

The community responded violently when an ambulance from the orthodox community picked up Lifsch, and reportedly left the little girl stuck under the car. Carmel Cato, father of Gavin along with community residents lifted the vehicle to save the young girl.

Lifsch was alleged to be drunk at the time and was immediately flown to Israel fueling protests and four days of continuous demonstrations promising “No Justice, No Peace.”

It was during one of those demonstrations that allegedly 16-year-old Trinidadian Lemrick Nelson reportedly stabbed Rosenbaum who died at Kings County Hospital. Protest rallies throughout Crown Heights and especially in front of the 71st precinct persisted for four days.

The Sunday parade recently, demonstrated how relations have improved between the predominant Jewish and Caribbean communities there.

Crown Heights Gold, an exhibition of contemporary art examining race relations and healing in Crown Heights, Brooklyn since Aug. 1991 will focus on the eventful uprising.

Curated by Dexter Wimberly, the exhibition begins in July at the Skylight Gallery at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation at Fulton St. and will run thru Sept. 30.

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