Tompkins Square Park 26th Police-Riot Reunion

Time certainly flies. It seems like only yesterday I was writing about the Tompkins Square Park 25th Police-Riot Reunion, and here we are now at year 26.

It’s raining as I write this (8/2 – 08:15) — it’s forecasted to rain all day — but the show will go on, rain or shine, says the promoter.

The weird thing about is that when you look at the summary forecast, it says one thing:


but when you check the hourly forecast, oftentimes it says something completely different:


What’s up with that? How are you supposed to know what to believe?

Another thing I don’t like about is that when you connect, to find out what the weather will be, you’re met with links to videos that have nothing to do with the weather:


* * *

Since it’s Saturday and I’m not working, I don’t have to plan ahead what to wear or take with me. I’ll base my decision on whatever’s happening at 12:45. I’ll take an umbrella, just in case. I don’t want my camera to get wet. And it’s six hours long, so I’m going to bring my book!

This year there are only two days of concerts. The bands are:

Ruckus Interruptus
Transgendered Jesus
Urban Waste

Bowery Boys
David Peel
Rosabelle Selavy
The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black

* * *


I arrived at Tompkins just before 1:00pm, when the flier said they would begin.

Little did I know that they meant begin building the stage!


I called my wife and told her I could help her take her books over the The Strand to sell now, after all, as she had wanted, instead of at some unspecified time in the future, as I had wanted.

When I got back over to the park, at around 2:30, Chris Flash was introducing the weekend’s events:

Concert organizer Chris Flash

He talked a bit about the riot, the days that followed, and the inception of The Shadow. When he was finished, he said there were still ten minutes left and anyone “who can speak coherently, who isn’t a complete lunatic” could come up and speak. Fortunately, only one lunatic spoke. Unfortunately, he wasn’t incoherent.

The bands finally started at around 3:00. I couldn’t stay for the whole show, though. I had to get back to the garden where I’m a member, for the screening of “Your Day is My Night,” part of the MoRUS “Women of the Lower East Side” film festival.

* * *


It’s clear to me now that the flier distributed to promote this show was wrong: it was not scheduled to start at 1:00. I arrived just before 1:00 again, and sat on a bench watching the stage builders rebuild the stage.* I thought about waiting until 3:00, but it rained earlier and it was very humid, and I had a lot of work to do at home, before picking up my son from Grand Central, so I decided to just pack it in and go back home. I didn’t see any of Sunday’s show, so the only video I have is of the first three bands that played on Saturday.

But before that! One of the people in the video featured prominently in a previous Quilas piece. Do you know which one? The first correct responder will receive the Quilas Certificate of Recognition, suitable for framing!


Now, on to the video!


* Wasn’t the deal with the city that they would provide a temporary stage, in exchange for tearing down the bandshell? Did the time expire on that deal, or did they just renege? Or is it something else? Answer in the Comments section. You won’t get a certificate, but doing the right thing is its own reward.

The Shadow, Reanimated

Last year, at the Tompkins Square Park 25th Police-Riot Reunion, it was announced that The Shadow was going back into print. The Shadow was a monthly, anarchist newspaper that started in 1989. It was an interesting paper, during an interesting time. I don’t remember it in great detail, but I remember that my favorite section was Cop Watch, where people reported on the activities of cops in the neighborhood. I also remember that they advertised the sale of the encryption program PGP for $10, even though the download from MIT was free.

If you want to get an idea of what it was like, check out their archives on the Wayback Machine. Unfortunately, it only starts in 1997 (the Wayback Archive started in 1996), but you’ll get a good idea of what the paper was like, especially compared with today.

The key thing is that it was more of a real newspaper. They still borrowed (liberated?) other people’s writing, but there was much more of their own. Today, it’s almost all borrowed. It’s basically a printed version of a Google search for, let’s say, “conspiracy theories.”

Their first re-issue features a piece written by Michael Parenti in 1996 (!), about the Kennedy assassination conspiracy (Yawn); an obituary of Mae Brussell (a conspiracy-monger who died in 1988) taken from a 1994 book by Paul Krassner; a review of a Kennedy-conspiracy book written in 2012; a Kennedy-conspiracy article; another Kennedy-conspiracy article…

Apart from the conspiracy nonsense, none of the articles are particularly bad, they’re just not news. For that matter, they’re not even new. There’s a long (of course) article about Bill de Blasio and Hillary Clinton that tries to be “local”:

In his 2000 book Rogue State, anti war writer William Blum indicated some of the reasons the husband of Hillary Clinton was considered responsible for war crimes by many anti war activists on the Lower East Side in 1999…

Their editorial headline is “The Honeymoon is Over: America Grows Weary of Barack Obama”. I have to wonder, as anarchists, was there ever a honeymoon period? This was written by A. Kronstadt, a pen-name used back in the 90s also, but who knows if it’s the same person?

They’ve dropped the banner “The Shadow is New York’s ONLY underground newspaper” from the paper itself, but they’ve added it to their Facebook page. Maybe the claim should be “The Shadow is Facebook’s only underground Facebook page!”

The Spring 2014 issue is better only because it’s not filled with Kennedy-conspiracy drivel. There’s another long article on Bill de Blasio and Hillary Clinton, an obituary of Al Goldstein, who died in 2013, and a lot of other non-news articles.

Probably the worst thing about The Shadow today is that I now have to pay $1.00 for a copy! Back when it was worth reading, it was free. Now that it’s all recycled internet articles, I have to pay for it. It’s not really worth it.

Finally, here is a screen shot of their web page:


Who knows what evil lurks in your closet? The Shadow knows!

Tompkins Square Park 25th Police-Riot Reunion

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Tompkins Square Park police riot.

Memories from New York
©2012 Andrew Lichtenstein

I’m not going to recount the details of the riot. The wikipedia article linked to above is not the best, but it will suffice.

I didn’t live in this neighborhood when the riot occurred. I lived in Washington Heights then, but I used to hang out down here with a friend of mine. Anything that was going on, we tried to make it to. Being in the park was an act of solidarity with the homeless encampment there, and with the larger goal of supporting housing as a human right.

All these years later, it probably doesn’t matter that I wasn’t there, unless I was fated to have been beaten up that night, in which case it’s a good thing I wasn’t there! Besides, I was already souring on the so-called anarchists. After the park was closed in 1991, they disappeared and haven’t been seen since. I’m sure the ones from that night have all gone on to work for their local Ron Paul campaigns, but the ones who adopt anarchism today still think they’re the first to discover that the police respond to provocations with violence, and that once people see this they’ll be shaken out of their stupor and overthrow the state. Hence, the preponderance of Guy Fawkes masks, smug and condescending. “East Village” anarchists were proponents of what Murray Bookchin called lifestyle anarchism, with its concern for autonomy and individualism. I’m not going to go into his arguments, or what he proposes as the alternative – it’s still a raincoat full of holes!


Reunion was probably not the right word to use to describe this event. I don’t think many people who were there that night came to this. For that matter, not that many people at all came to it!

The Bambi Killers had just finished.

During Iconicide’s performance.

I’m not sure three days of obstreperous noise was the best use of time and resources. Twenty five years later, is this what they still listen to? I know that many of the bands that played were around back in the late 80s, but three days of it? Even if three days was necessary, tables should have been set up around the perimeter with information, not only about that time, but current programs in the neighborhood. The Shadow1 had a table, but then they were the sponsor of the concerts, so it was more for self-promotion.

I don’t know. I wasn’t there for the planning, but then this is not the first time concerts have been held to commemorate this event, and I’ve never seen any kind of outreach at those either.


There was also a film festival, sponsored by the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, that took place at different locations in the neighborhood, from August 3 to 10.

I think the film festival was a great idea. They billed it as “1st Annual MoRUS Film Fest,” so hopefully they’ll be able to continue this annually. I’m not sure if it was meant to commemorate the anniversary of the police riot – its timing may have been – but something like this goes a long way in engaging people, something that was sorely missing from the concerts. The garden that I am a member of was to host two of them. The first one was moved to the MoRUS space due to rain, but the second one was held in the garden. We had a great turnout, and look forward to participating again next year.




1The Shadow is going to start publishing again.