police brutality

Excessive use of force, particularly against people of color, by the largely white police force was a major contributor to racial unrest in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s.

Among the most notorious cases were Michael Stewart, a 25-year-old African American student who died in 1983 following a severe beating by Transit Police arresting him for spray-painting graffiti in the subway; Eleanor Bumpurs, a 66-year-old mentally ill African American woman killed in 1984 by police who came to evict her from her Bronx apartment; Jose (Kiko) Garcia, a 23-year-old Dominican immigrant killed in 1992 by police during a drug sweep whose death touched off rioting in Washington Heights; Anthony Baez, a 29-year-old Latino who died in the Bronx in 1994 after being choked during arrest (he had hit a police car with a football while playing catch with his brother); Abner Louima, a 30-year-old Haitian immigrant who was arrested and sodomized with a broomstick in a Brooklyn police station in 1997; Amadou Diallo, a 22-year old Guinean immigrant who was fatally shot by police in the doorway of his Bronx apartment in 1999; and Patrick Dorismond, a 26-year-old African American security guard killed in 2000 by undercover NYPD agents after they approached him to ask where they could purchase marijuana.

In some cases, activists also suffered from police brutality, such as 27-year-old ACT UP member and former seminarian Christopher Hennelly, who had permanent brain damage after being clubbed on the head by police at an AIDS demonstration.

New Yorkers protested Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s support for the New York City Police Department despite the abuses in the Louima, Diallo, and Dorismond cases, as well as his adoption of the “stop and frisk” policy – later ruled unconstitutional – in which young African American and Latino men were disproportionately targeted for search by police.

Racism Photo

Tompkins Square Park, August 6, 1988
Police restrain a protester at Tompkins Square Park, a week after police implemented a curfew on the park. The park was the residence of many homeless people, and the action by police led to clashes which culminated in a riot. More than 100 complaints of police brutality were filed.

Mark Peterson

Racism Photo

Manhattan 1990
Rev. Al Sharpton marches uptown against traffic on 5th Avenue between 43rd and 44th streets with family members of people killed by police.

Gabe Kirchheimer

Racism Photo

Manhattan, World Trade Center, April 16, 1993
The jury convicts former LAPD police officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell in violating the civil rights of Rodney King. Two other officers, Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind were found not guilty. Demonstrations broke out in the wake of the verdict.

Ricky Flores

Racism Photo

Crown Heights, Brooklyn, August 1991
Police officer throttles a man NYPD accused of throwing bottles at them during three days of race riots following the death of Gyanese-American Gavin Cato, a seven-year-old boy killed after being hit by a vehicle driven by Yosef Lifsh in the motorcade of Lubavitcher Grand Rebbe Menachem Schneerson.

Brian Palmer

Racism Photo

Bronx, February 17, 1987
Protests outside the Bronx State Supreme Court where Officer Stephen Sullivan was being tried for the shooting death of 66-year-old Eleanor Bumpurs. The emotionally disturbed Ms. Bumpurs was being evicted from her apartment in the Sedgwick Houses in the Morris Heights Section of the Bronx on October 29,1984 for being four months behind in her monthly rent of $98.65.

Bill Biggart

Racism Photo

Bronx, February 17, 1987
Protests outside the Bronx State Supreme Court where Officer Stephen Sullivan was being tried for the shooting death of 66-year-old Eleanor Bumpurs. The emotionally disturbed Ms. Bumpurs was being evicted from her apartment in the Sedgwick Houses in the Morris Heights Section of the Bronx on October 29,1984 for being four months behind in her monthly rent of $98.65.

Bill Biggart

Racism Photo

Bushwick, Brooklyn, 1990
Protest against police killing of Jose Luis LeBron.

Nina Berman

Racism Photo

Washington Heights, Manhattan, July 1992
Demonstrations in Washington Heights in the wake of the shooting of Jose "Kiko" Garcia by an undercover police officer during a drug sweep of the neighborhood.

Ricky Flores

Racism Photo

Washington Heights, July 1992
Demonstrations in Washington Heights in the wake of the shooting of Jose "Kiko" Garcia by an undercover police officer during a drug sweep of the neighborhood.

Ricky Flores

Racism Photo

Washington Heights, July 1992
Protesters demonstrate for several days in Washington Heights in the wake of the shooting of Jose "Kiko" Garcia by an undercover police officer during a drug sweep of the neighborhood.

Ricky Flores

Racism Photo

Washington Heights, July 1992
Demonstrators attempt to close the Washington Bridge. Several days of demonstrations took place in the wake of the shooting of Jose "Kiko" Garcia by an undercover police officer during a drug sweep of the neighborhood.

Ricky Flores

Racism Photo

Washington Heights, July 1992
Police are in heavy presence amid protests and riots in association with the police shooting of Jose "Kiko" Garcia.

Linda Rosier

Racism Photo

1997
Iris Baez and her sister wait on a side street before a rally against police brutality. Her son, Anthony Baez, was killed in a chokehold by Officer Francis Livoti

Edwin Pagan

Racism Photo

April 1992
Protestors take to the streets in response to the acquittal of the officers involved in the beating of Rodney King.

Linda Rosier

Racism Photo

Manhattan, April 1992
New York City protestors take to the streets in response to the acquittal of the officers involved in the beating of Rodney King.

Linda Rosier

Racism Photo

Manhattan, April 1992
New York City protestors take to the streets in response to the acquittal of the officers involved in the beating of Rodney King.

linda rosier

Racism Photo

Manhattan, 1995
Demonstrators protest against the capital punishment of Mumia Abu Jamal.

Sylvia PLachy

Racism Photo

Manhattan, March 1999
Demonstration on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange calling for the indictment of the four policemen who shot and killed Amadou Diallo.

frank fournier | CONTACT PRESS

Racism Photo

Manhattan, March 1999
In front of City Hall, men demonstrating against police brutality following the killing in the Bronx of an innocent West African immigrant Amadou Diallo by four white policemen.

frank fournier | CONTACT PRESS

Racism Photo

Bronx, 1999
Police officers and detectives demonstrate in front of the Bronx Court House in support of the four plainclothes policemen who shot and killed Amadou Diallo as the grand jury called for their indictment.

frank fournier | CONTACT PRESS

Racism Photo

Manhattan, March 1999
Demonstrators protest near City Hall against Mayor Giuliani and demand for indictments of four police officers who shot Diallo.

frank fournier | CONTACT PRESS

Racism Photo

Manhattan, October 1998
Demonstrators, many of whom are mothers and relatives of deceased, march down Broadway from Union Square against police brutality.

frank fournier | CONTACT PRESS

Racism Photo

Manhattan, March 1999
Demonstrators march near City Hall against Mayor Giuliani's policing policies and demand indictments of the four police officers who shot Diallo.

frank fournier | CONTACT PRESS

Racism Photo

Manhattan, 1999
Daily protests outside the police headquarters since the shooting of Amadou Diallo, a black man, by four white undercover policemen. 41 shots were fired and Diallo was hit by 19 bullets.

Bill Biggart

Racism Photo

Brooklyn NY August 1997
Demonstrators march in support of Abner Louima who was tortured in the 70th Police Precinct. The Haitian community and many others came to march against police abuses and brutality. Posters show pictues of Justin Volpe, the police officer who sodomized and tortured Abnar Louima.

frank fournier | CONTACT PRESS

Racism Photo

Manhattan, 1999
Daily protests outside the police headquarters since the shooting of Amadou Diallo, a black man, by four white undercover policemen. 41 shots were fired and Amadou was hit by 19 bullets.

Bill Biggart

Racism Photo

Manhattan, 1999
Daily protests outside the police headquarters since the shooting of Amadou Diallo, a black man, by four white undercover policemen. 41 shots were fired and Amadou was hit by 19 bullets.

Bill Biggart

Racism Photo

Bronx, February 1999
Amadou Diallo's portrait hangs in a building in the Soundview section of the South Bronx while thousands of people hold a rally to protest his death and the NYPD's fatal brutality.

Q. Sakamaki

Racism Photo

Manhattan, February 27, 2000
Members of Women in Mourning and Outrage hold up pictures of Amadou Diallo during a rally in front of the United Nations in the wake of the acquittal of four New York City Police Officers involved in his shooting.

Ricky Flores

Racism Photo

Manhattan, February 26, 2000
A protester tosses a garbage can at New York City Police Officers as the peaceful demonstration against the acquittal of four white New York City Police Officers in the killing of Amadou Diallo turned violent.

Ricky Flores

Racism Photo

Brooklyn, Februrary 3, 1990
Rev. Al Sharpton and Richie Perez help lead the protest at the 83rd Precinct in a demonstration against the shooting deaths of Jose Lebron, 15, and in a separate incident, Luis Liranso, 17, at the hands of police.

Ricky Flores