The Tompkins Square Park, by the late eighties, had become overrun by “drug pushers, homeless people and young people known as ‘skinheads'”. The Manhattan Community Board 3, the area’s local governing body, introduced a 1 a.m. curfew for the previously 24-hour park. On July 31, 1988, a protest rally against the curfew saw several clashes between protesters and police. A second rally was was scheduled for August 6.
At this second rally, the police charged the crowd of protesters, and a riot swiftly ensued, with bystanders, activists, police officers, neighborhood residents and journalists were caught up in the violence.
The neighborhood, previously divided over how to deal with the park, was near unanimous in its condemnation of the heavy-handed actions of the police. More than a hundred complaints of police brutality were lodged following the riot. Much blame was laid on poor police handling, and the commander of the precinct in charge was deprived of office for a year.
Hold On – Lou Reed