August 19th is the thirtieth anniversary of what started as a tragic car accident in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. A tragedy that Al Sharpton escalated into a full-blown pogrom against the Jews. To this day, the MSM incorrectly calls the Crown Heights riot “racial violence,” and they join the Democratic Party as worshiping Sharpton as a civil rights icon (instead of the hater he’s proven to be). Sharpton Incited Crown Heights
The media protects Sharpton by giving the Crown Heights pogrom the politically correct label “racial violence between the area’s Blacks and Jews.” However, the violence was not two-sided and was not racial. The Crown Heights riot was an attack on “whites” by the neighborhood’s Caribbean community. It was an attack on Jews fueled in large part by Al Sharpton, the supposed “Reverend” who does not follow the 9th commandment about “bearing false witness.”
Below is the full story of the MSNBC commentator and supposed human rights activist Al Sharpton’s first anti-Semitic pogrom incited during his career of inciting hatred of Jews and others:
Black Antisemitism in the Summer of 1991
Jews were a key part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. When the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous march to Selma, Alabama, he walked hand in hand with many Jews and Torahs. One of Reverend King’s closest friends at the march was Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Polish-born American rabbi considered one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century. The Rabbi was a leader in the civil rights movement. In many pictures of 1960s civil rights protests, the Reverend and Rabbi marched close together in the front line.
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Together the two great men of faith forged a close alliance between African American and Jewish national leadership. But after Dr. King was assassinated, a fracture developed between the leadership of the two communities because some of the African American leaders who replaced him felt the Jews were not their allies but their competition. That competitiveness quickly morphed into Antisemitism.
After the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., the leadership of the Civil Rights movement was inherited by people like Jesse Jackson, who saw the Jews as their competition for achieving middle-class status. Black leaders such as Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and Al Sharpton, went public with anti-Semitic comments.
Jewish/Black relations were already rocky as NY City entered the summer of 1991.
On July 20, 1991, Leonard Jeffries of City College, who had a history of anti-Semitic slurs, presented a two-hour long speech claiming “rich Jews” financed the slave trade, Jews control the film industry (together with the Italian mafia), and they use that control to paint a brutal stereotype of blacks. Jeffries also attacked Diane Ravitch (Assistant Secretary of Education), calling her a “sophisticated Texas Jew, a debonair racist,” and “Miss Daisy.”
Jeffries’ speech received enormous negative press during the first weeks of August, especially from the Jewish community leaders who wanted Jeffries fired for the bigotry.
With each new criticism of the professor, leaders in the African-American community rushed to Jeffries’ defense. NYC’s two black newspapers and black radio station WLIB; joined activists such as Al Sharpton, Colin Moore, C. Vernon Mason, Sonny Carson, and Lenora Fulani to showcase their approval of Jeffries’s “scholarship” and to denounce the people who criticized Jeffries Antisemitism as race-baiters.
Sharpton has been credited with saying, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house” as a response to the Crown Heights riot. That is a fallacy. Sharpton made that threatening comment about the growing Jeffries controversy on August 18th, the day before the riots began. Clearly, something bad was coming.
When Jeffries was fired because of his bigoted speech and pressure from the Jewish community (he was later reinstated and won a court case surrounding his firing), it led to further resentment of the Jews from the NY Black community, which was already being barraged with anti-Jewish incitement from the local African-American media.
Crown Heights Ignites
On Monday, 8/19/91, a station wagon driven by Yosef Lifsh hit another car and bounced onto the sidewalk at 8:21 p.m. The station wagon was part of a 3-car motorcade carrying the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, who was in a different car.
The station wagon tragically struck two black children, 7-year-old cousins Gavin and Angela Cato, when it bounced onto the sidewalk. The drive Lifsh immediately got out of his car and tried to help the children–but the gathering crowd started to attack him.
Within minutes, an ambulance from the Hasidic-run ambulance service and two from the city’s Emergency Medical Service arrived. Concurrently a crowd gathered and became unruly. The responding police radioed for backup, reporting the station wagon’s driver and passengers were being assaulted. Police officer Nona Capace ordered the Hasidic ambulance to remove the battered Yosef Lifsh and his passenger from the scene.
The injured children went by separate city ambulances to Kings County Hospital. Tragically Gavin Cato was pronounced dead; thankfully, his cousin survived.
A false rumor began to spread that the Hasidic ambulance crew had ignored the dying black child to treat the Jewish men. This falsehood was later used by Al Sharpton to incite the crowd. Other rumors sprang up Lifsh was intoxicated (a breath alcohol test administered by the police proved his sobriety). More falsehoods circulated; Lifsh did not have a valid driver’s license; he went through a red light; the police prevented people, including Gavin Cato’s father, from assisting in the rescue.
Charles Price, an area resident who had come to the scene of the accident, incited the masses with claims, “The Jews get everything they want. They’re killing our children.” Price later plead guilty to inciting the crowd to murder Yankel Rosenbaum.
Ignited by the falsehoods, resentment exploded into violence. Groups of young black men threw rocks, bottles, and debris at police, residents, and homes.
According to the New York Times, more than 250 neighborhood residents went on a rampage that first night, mostly black teenagers, many of whom were shouting “Jews! Jews! Jews!”
Three hours after the tragic crash, 29-year-old Australian Jewish scholar Yankel Rosenbaum was attacked by a gang of Black teens. He was stabbed four times. Cops quickly arrested Lemrick Nelson, who was identified by Rosenbaum as his attacker. Rosenbaum’s wounds were not fatal. He was expected to recover; Mayor Dinkins visited Rosenbaum at the hospital. Yankel died at 2:30am Tuesday because the hospital staff missed one of his knife wounds. Rosenbaum’s killer, Lemrick Nelson, was acquitted of murder by a New York jury. It would take two federal civil rights prosecutions to send Nelson away (he eventually did 10 years on civil rights charges).
Despite some claims Al Sharpton had nothing to do with the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, the tax-dodging anti-Semitic racial agitator didn’t get involved until the second day of the riot.
The next evening, according to the sworn testimony of Efraim Lipkind, a former resident of Crown Heights, Sharpton started agitating the crowd.
“Then we had a famous man, Al Sharpton, who came down, and he said Tuesday night, kill the Jews, two times. I heard him, and he started to lead a charge across the street to Utica.”
With each passing hour, the violence worsened, Jewish leaders began to desperately complain about the lack of protection to the authorities. They said the rioters were being allowed to rampage unchecked, too little force was brought to bear, and too few arrests were being made. Area Jews felt the police were under orders by the City’s first black mayor David Dinkins to hold back, that the police were not allowed to fight against the Black rioters, who continued to grow bolder in their anti-Semitic attacks as they sensed the appeasement.
For three days following the accident, African and Caribbean Americans of the neighborhood, joined by growing numbers of non-residents (just like Ferguson), rioted in Crown Heights. A Jew who ventured outside was risking his life. Of course, the Jewish homes were easily identifiable by a mezuzah on the front door, so they were targets anyway.
On the third day of the riot, Al Sharpton and Sonny Carson led a march of protesters chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” “Death to the Jews!” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” The mob displayed anti-Semitic signs and burned an Israeli flag.
The Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir called Mayor Dinkins to inquire about the travesties. Dinkins replied curtly that it was a domestic issue and none of his business. Shamir replied, “If Jews are being murdered and an Israeli flag is burned, this is very much my business.”
The fact is New York City Mayor David Dinkins did not tell the police to back off. He responded to the riot immediately by deploying 2,000 police officers and making a personal visit to the troubled neighborhood under a hail of rocks and epithets hurled at him by fellow blacks.
Dinkins has spoken of his own mishandling of the riots. Admitting he screwed up handling Crown Heights (and destroyed his political career):
“I regret not saying to the police brass sooner whatever you guys are doing is not working” it was then they altered their behavior and they were able to contained the ravaging young blacks who were attacking Jews … I will forever be accused of holding back the police and permitted blacks to attack Jews, however that did not happen it is just inaccurate”
In all, the street violence against the Crown Heights Jews lasted three days/four nights, starting with the evening of the accident. On Thursday evening, cops finally restored order, although sporadic violence against Jews continued for weeks after the riot was contained.
Yankel Rosenbaum wasn’t the only person murdered by the rioters. On September 5th, after the riot was over, Italian-American Anthony Graziosi was dragged out of his car, brutally beaten, and stabbed to death because his full beard and dark clothing caused him to be mistaken for a Hasidic Jew.
A week after the accident that started it all, at the funeral of Gavin Cato on August 26th, Al Sharpton gave a eulogy that fueled the fires of Antisemitism:
“The world will tell us he was killed by accident. Yes, it was a social accident. ... It’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of Crown Heights. … Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. ... All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no kaffe klatsch, no skinnin’ and grinnin’. Pay for your deeds.”
Regarding the Mayor’s call for peace, Sharpton pontificated:
“They don’t want peace, they want quiet.”
Sharpton and the Cato family lawyer counseled them not to cooperate with authorities in the investigation and demanded a special prosecutor be named.
When Sharpton was asked about the violence, he justified it,
“We must not reprimand our children for outrage, when it is the outrage that was put in them by an oppressive system,” he said.
The first Sabbath after the Funeral, Sharpton tried unsuccessfully to kick up tensions again by marching 400 protesters in front of the Lubavitch of Crown Heights Shul, shouting “No Justice, No Peace.”
Sharpton called for the arrest of Lifsh, the driver of the station wagon. Even though more than twenty similarly accidental vehicular deaths had occurred in Brooklyn since 1989 without a single arrest. In fact, several of those accidents involved local Hasidim run down by blacks.
The agitator’s pressure led Charles Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, into convening a grand jury. When the accident investigation did not produce a criminal indictment against Yosef Lifsh, Al Sharpton encouraged the Cato family to seek big-bucks damages in a civil suit against Lifsh (who had since fled to Israel for his own safety). Sharpton announced that he would personally serve papers on Yosef Lifsh in Israel. He bought tickets and hopped an El-Al flight on the weekend of Yom Kippur. At Ben Gurion Airport, a woman spotted Sharpton hailing a cab and yelled at him, “Go to hell! “I am in hell already,” shot back. “I am in Israel.”
The Media Lied About Crown Heights
The media portrayed the Crown Heights riot as a two-sided racial battle promoting the myth that both blacks and Jews were equal in their violence and ignoring what it was…an anti-Semitic riot. For example, the title of one New York Times article from the third day of the riot was “Two Deaths Ignite Racial Clash In Tense Brooklyn Neighborhood.” The NY Post had headlines such as “Traffic Death Sparks Race Riot In Brooklyn.” Calling it a race riot instead of an anti-Semitic attack fit their narrative. Today, most of the MSM denies that Antisemitism exists in the U.S., Perhaps because it’s fomented by the left-wing of the Democratic Party.
Ari Goldman, the NY Times religion reporter covered the Crown Heights riot and was not happy about how the paper changed his news reports to fit the Times liberal agenda:
My job was to file memos to the main “rewrite” reporters back in the Times office in Manhattan about what I saw and heard. We had no laptops or cellphones in those days so the other reporters and I went to payphones and dictated our memos to a waiting band of stenographers in the home office…Yet, when I picked up the paper, the article I read was not the story I had reported. I saw headlines that described the riots in terms solely of race. “Two Deaths Ignite Racial Clash in Tense Brooklyn Neighborhood,” the Times headline said. And, worse, I read an opening paragraph, what journalists call a “lead,” that was simply untrue:
“Hasidim and blacks clashed in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn through the day and into the night yesterday.” In all my reporting during the riots I never saw — or heard of — any violence by Jews against blacks. But the Times was dedicated to this version of events: blacks and Jews clashing amid racial tensions. To show Jewish culpability in the riots, the paper even ran a picture — laughable even at the time — of a chasidic man brandishing an open umbrella before a police officer in riot gear. The caption read: “A police officer scuffling with a Hasidic man yesterday on President Street.”
I was outraged but I held my tongue. I was a loyal Times employee and deferred to my editors. I figured that other reporters on the streets were witnessing parts of the story I was not seeing.
But then I reached my breaking point. On Aug. 21, as I stood in a group of Chasidic men in front of the Lubavitch headquarters, a group of demonstrators were coming down Eastern Parkway. “Heil Hitler,” they chanted. “Death to the Jews.”
You don’t know what’s happening here!” I yelled. “I am on the streets getting attacked. Someone next to me just got hit. I am writing memos and what comes out in the paper? ‘Hasidim and blacks clashed’? That’s not what is happening here. Jews are being attacked! You’ve got this story all wrong. All wrong.”
In her essay “Framing Identity: The Press In Crown Heights,” Carol B.Conaway explained.
To frame the incidents of Crown Heights as a “race war” or as “racial strife,” as the press did, not only conveyed the idea that blacks and whites were in conflict, but it also implied that there was a certain familiar array of antagonists and issues that have characterized racial confrontations in this country since the 1940s. The racial frame as used in the United States presupposes that there are parties who appear to be, or are identified as being, “black” and parties who appear to be, or are identified as being “white.” The antagonists in the racial frame are African-Americans and white Americans, and the familiar issues are discrimination, civil rights, etc.
The Girgenti Commission classified the Crown Heights disturbances as bias-related. They found an explicit element of bias in the many marches, demonstrations, and criminal activities which occurred during the four days of the disturbance. For example, the Commission cites the time that on one afternoon, marchers went through Crown Heights shouting “Death to Jews.”
That night, youths in the area were chanting “Heil Hitler,” “Death to the Jews,” and “Kill the Jews” as they threw rocks at cars and homes owned by Lubavitchers. A person in the crowd was reported as yelling, “We don’t get any justice… We don’t get any justice, they’re killing our children. We have to stop this… Jews get preferential treatment, we don’t get any justice.” Another person yelled, “Let’s go to Kingston Avenue and get the Jews.” As the young males of African descent surrounded Yankel Rosenbaum, they shouted, “Kill the Jew!” and “There’s a Jew, get the Jew.” Many callers to 911 stated that Jewish homes and property rather than others were under attack by rioters, and that roving bands were targeting Jewish persons.
For liberal-dominated media, it’s impossible to perceive blacks as purveyors of bigotry. They are forever in the role of victims of hate. That’s one of the reasons the MSM goes out of their way to support Critical Race Theory.
Sharpton abandoned the Caribbean people of Crown Heights as soon as the anti-Semitic violence died down. His entire participation in the violence may have been a calculated effort to usurp Jesse Jackson as the leading spokesman for African-Americans. Jackson may have had his “Hymie-town” but Sharpton’s incitement against those Jews he perceived as having the political power African Americans deserved went much further than simply words like Jackson.
Sadly had Sharpton not exploited the death of Gavin Cato for his own “resume”, what was by all accounts, a disorganized group of ruffians on the first night of the riot, might well have dissipated the morning after the accident.
After the King case, who could believe that blacks in America could ever take over the role of racists, but that is what happened in Crown Heights. Even today, the deaths of Gavin Cato and Yankel Rosenbaum are viewed as some sort of a tit for tat, a disturbing misrepresentation of the facts. Cato’s death resulted from a horrible car accident; on the other hand, Rosenbaum was deliberately stabbed four times by an angry mob. He died because of the incompetence of the Doctor who treated him. The third death, Anthony Graziosi, has been forgotten perhaps because his death would break some cynical equality of fatality rule.
Many within the Jewish community felt Mayor Dinkins was complacent in the violence, holding back the police from protecting the Jewish community. Still, there has never been evidence offered proving that charge. A more likely explanation for the lack of protection offered to the Hasidic community is a perfect storm of incompetence. Incompetent Police Commissioner Lee Brown was being managed by an incompetent Mayor.
Nevertheless, the pogrom dealt a death blow to Dinkins’ mayoral career. Ironically it was the fact that Jews had voted for him in overwhelming numbers that gave him a narrow victory over Rudy Giuliani in 1989. Those same Jews switched sides, giving Giuliani the win against Dinkins in 1993. The mainstream media still refuses to acknowledge that African-Americans can be racists just like anyone else, and Antisemitism is still ignored by the media.
As for Al Sharpton, he led a second pogrom, this time against a Jewish-owned business in Harlem. He never apologized or even acknowledged his leadership of these two anti-Semitic pogroms or any of his other incidents of racial agitation.
Sharpton has never apologized for Crown Heights, Freddy’s, or any other part of his career of promoting Antisemitism. Sharpton is treated as a kingmaker by the media and politicians in the Democratic Party without mentioning his hatred. Even politicians claiming to be Jewish. For example, in October 2019, NY Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer went to the 65th birthday party of Al Sharpton–he not only went to the party but gave a gushing toast to the Antisemite saying in part, “we need Reverend Al like never before,” Well he was partially correct because we never needed Sharpton’s hatred before,
I suppose it was his experience in leading two anti-Semitic pogroms that gave Sharpton the expertise he needed. Just as he did in 1991, today, Al Sharpton exploits the death of someone’s child to incite anger and build his reputation as a “civil rights leader.” But now brings with him the approval and weight of MSNBC and much of the Democratic Party.
The mainstream media learned nothing from Crown Heights pogrom. They continue to ignore Al Sharpton’s record of hatred. To them, he is a civil rights leader, but history shows he is nothing but an opportunistic hater who has NEVER acknowledged or apologized for his role in the riot.
The MSM continues to ignore most of the Antisemitism in the U.S., especially the hatred from Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
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Sharpton Incited Crown Heights,