400 marchers protest in N.Y. after deaths

August 25, 1991|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- The Rev. Al Sharpton led about 400 shouting, chanting black protesters through the heart of the Hasidic section of Crown Heights in Brooklyn yesterday as a blue wall of police officers made sure that the march went off without serious incident.

The police outnumbered the marchers, flanking them with a double column of officers marching alongside and with motorcycle patrols.

A helicopter circled overhead.

About 40 bearded, black-clad Hasidim watched from the porch of the Lubavitcher headquarters on Eastern Parkway as the marchers passed, chanting, "Whose streets? Our streets!" "No justice, no peace," and scattered obscenities.

Three busloads of Mr. Sharpton's followers joined about 200 protesters already gathered at 2:15 p.m. After passing the Lubavitcher headquarters, they turned north into the Bedford-Stuyvesant section, winding up at Junior High School 258, where an African culture celebration was under way.

At the school, several of the protesters were heard grumbling that "Sharpton sold us out."

"We were supposed to be marching up Kingston so we could confront the Jews," one said. "I don't understand why we ended up back at the school."

Tensions had been high after four nights of rock- and bottle-throwing clashes, sparked by a traffic accident Monday night in which a driver in the entourage of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menacham Schneerson killed Gavin Cato, a black child.

Long-simmering resentments at what blacks in the neighborhood consider preferential treatment of the Hasidim by police and city officials exploded in a rampage in which a Hasidic man later was stabbed to death.

For three tense hours Friday night Mayor David N. Dinkins met with Mr. Sharpton and other protest leaders in Bedford-Stuyvesant, but he failed to talk them out of staging the march.

Wearing the baseball hat with an "X" for Malcolm X -- popular with black youths this summer -- and a Le Coq Sportif jogging suit, the mayor tried again to calm tensions yesterday morning. He went to Crown Heights with Police Commissioner Lee P. Brown, stopping at a McDonald's restaurant to chat with the predominantly black crowd, waving to passers-by and kissing babies.

Then the mayor walked several blocks to the spot at President Street and Brooklyn Avenue where the visiting Hasidic scholar, Yankel Rosenbaum, was stabbed in the hours after the death of Gavin. There he placed a wreath.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.