Twenty years ago this weekend, the neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn erupted in a vicious riot between members of the Jewish community and members of the Black community after two related incidents sparked the fury. As Wikipedia explains,
Crown Heights was and currently remains a primarily West Indian and African American community; however, it has a large minority of Jews. The riot began on August 19, 1991 after the child (Gavin Cato) of two Guyanese immigrants was accidentally struck and killed by an automobile in the motorcade of a prominent Hasidic rabbi. During the riot, an Orthodox Jew (Yankel Rosenbaum) was killed.
The riot unveiled long simmering tensions between the Crown Heights' Black and Jewish communities.
It also had an impact on the 1993 mayoral race, and ultimately led to a successful outreach program between Black and Jewish leaders that helped improve race relations in the city.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who was the most powerful voice for Black New Yorkers during that time, led many peaceful marches following the riots and also spoke at the funeral for seven year old Gavin. As part of the 20th anniversary of the riots, a synagogue led by Rabbi Marc Schneier (President of the Foundation For Ethnic Understanding) in West Hampton invited Rev. Sharpton to speak at the temple this Sunday.
As word spead that the Rev would be speaking, controversy erupted when the brother of Yankel Rosenbaum publicly objected to Al Sharpton's participation in the forum at Rabbi Schneier's synagogue.
GlobalGrind has exclusively obtained a letter that Rev. Sharpton sent to Rabbi Marc Schneier this morning addressing the latest controversy.
CLICK NEXT TO READ REV. SHARPTON'S LETTER