Carmel Cato and Professor Norman Rosenbaum haven’t seen each other in five years. But their bond goes back to August 1991 and the Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn.
Cato’s 7-year-old son Gavin was killed when a station wagon came onto the sidewalk and crashed into him while he was fixing his bike. His 7-year-old cousin Angela was also hit but survived.
The accident touched off three days of riots between August 19 and August 21 by mostly African American residents angered that the driver of the station wagon was Jewish.
In the ensuing melee, Rosenbaum’s brother Yankel was murdered. He was an innocent man targeted only because he was Jewish.
This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of what has been called one of darkest chapters in New York City history. Since that time, relations between Crown Heights Jewish and black residents have healed.
Community activist Richard Green helped broker that unity. He hopes the Crown Heights of today can serve as an example, he feels, that is needed.