Curfew in Tompkins Square Park (1988)

Tompkins Square ParkTompkins Square Park

In 1988, Tompkins Square Park was the site of a massive riot in response to a curfew in the park. The park had seen an earlier riot in 1874 after the NYPD clashed with a demonstration of thousands of unemployed city residents, many heavily impacted by the earlier Panic of 1873. By the late 20th century, the park was home to over 150 homeless people, as well as drug pushers and all-night street parties. After residents complained about the park, Community Board 3 approved a proposal for a 1 A.M. curfew, which was later enacted by the Parks Department.

Immediately after the curfew was put into effect, protests were organized due to concern that the police were trying to take the park away from the public. After police stopped a protest on July 31, another protest on August 6 was arranged, protesters holding posters reading “Gentrification is Class War.” Tensions escalated as police charged the crowd that night, with many people capturing police aggression on camera. The protest died down at around 6 A>M.. the following day, and Mayor Ed Koch was forced to revoke the curfew. The park closed from 1991 to 1992 for restoration, and over 100 complaints of police brutality were filed following the riot.