The Washington Heights Riots of 1992 Remembered – Part 2

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

As I look back now on those days, I realized that what had begun, as a visceral response to the killing of Jose “Kiko” Garcia was really the culmination of the utter madness that Crack had wreaked on our neighborhood. Crack changed everything, Washington Heights went from a poor but mostly peaceful place to an outright war zone almost overnight. The lawlessness and outright thuggery had turned Washington Heights into the East Coast’s most active drug market in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The money that flowed into the neighborhood corrupted everything it touched.

This sad state of affairs could not continue, something had to give. By the same token, the police tactics being used against the community at large, not just the drug dealers, were only quasi-legal and were extremely heavy handed. There were many occasions when the cops would stop and frisk my friends and I for no apparent reason. It was a regular occurrence, we already knew the routine. We also knew not to mess with the cops, as you would either end up arrested or if you were lucky with a black eye.

Living in Washington Heights in those days, even if you were just a kid, felt like you were living under siege. That fateful night, 18 years ago, all those factors came into play and the entire neighborhood lost its collective mind.

Check out Part 1 of the Riots Remembered: Here

The rest of these pics were taken by the amazing Ricky Flores.

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

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27 Responses to “The Washington Heights Riots of 1992 Remembered – Part 2”

  1. SPEACH Gal says:

    Great pics and even better story. Thanks for the memories (good, bad and ugly) associated with the riots!

    • Vladimir says:

      “All those factors came into play.” This is a really accurate and intelligent assessment! Thank you. Most people forget that as much as we are individuals, we are also products of objective historical conditions that are bigger than our subjective choices. The riots weren’t a reactionary, singular call in the wild, but an allergic reaction that had come to a boil for a long time. The same goes for any mass event or movement; we are all subject to larger circumstances.

  2. O. Nova says:

    This post is Dope!!!

  3. Julia says:

    I had left the neighborhood behind a year before.

    That night I called home to make sure things hadn’t spread up to where we were

    Remember my ma (who was furious that I had left nyc) saying, “Glad you are not here.” My heart sank when i heard those words.

    If I remember there was a book published in the mid 90’s – “Wild Cowboys”, chronicling this time. Tried to read it, but very biased toward law enforcement and really dry.

    Here’s the link though

    Great post, excellent blog.

  4. uptownco says:

    Hey Julia – thanks for the compliments. Yeah, I felt the same way about the book, alot of good info but the slant was way off. I plan on re-reading it in the near future. Please let all your people know about the site.


  5. Julia says:

    Will do Led.

  6. Irving AKA philly phil.Lendof says:

    My senitments are exact. My friend you have spoken the truth and continue to amaze with your knowlegde and commetment to speaking and schooling people in what is right and wrong.

  7. Wow that shit is ill. Thank you for this post and the amazing photos chronicling a crazy time… I remember reading about this as a kid in Queens. My mom grew up on 175th and Broad but moved out to Jackson Heights in the 60’s. She was heartbroken to see what happened to her old hood. When I moved up here years later, she was scared shit, but I assured her that it wasn’t as nuts anymore.

  8. […] on July 13, 2010 at 9:54 am | Reply THE RIOTS REMEMBERED – PART 2 « […]

  9. uptownco says:

    Thanks for the compliment Vladimir. What was happening in the Washington Heights of that era was so much bigger than any of the actual players in that drama. People want easy answers to tough questions but that is not reality.


  10. […] also took a look at the Riots (Part 1 & Part 2 ) that rocked this neighborhood 18 years […]

  11. Over time these stories will vanish into history like they never existed. America is good about erasing its undesirable history. As long as there are people like you around to keep this history alive it will never be forgotten. Please do not sharing these experiences, the children need to hear it.

  12. Snipe says:

    I need video of this

  13. Red Fox says:

    ….Wow!!! Incredible.. I remember this vividly. I lived in St Nich (180), and the view from my window, I saw it ALL.. smh… The Red Fox Marketer~

  14. Dj Boy says:

    “There were many occasions when the cops would stop and frisk my friends and I for no apparent reason. It was a regular occurrence, we already knew the routine.”
    Sounds a little too familiar nowadays

  15. DRESKI 170 says:


  16. Angy says:

    Wow you just brought this back full forth. I lived on 164th Street and Amsterdam during these times, and I remember hearing the news of Kikos death from my step-dad who was a childhood friend of his. These were crazy times, I had never sen a crack vial until I moved to 164th, the epidemic was running rampant during these times and I vividly remember the nights of these riots, my mom didnt allow us to go outside until everything calmed down.

    • admin says:

      Yeah, the 160’s were pure fire back in those days. It was literally the epicenter of crack in Washington Heights. Those were definitely crazy times.


  17. Fonseca Fotography says:

    Amazing story and photos! Thank you for sharing. I moved to the Heights from the Bronx in the late 90’s. The 168th Street and Broadway photo with everybody in the streets is Crazy! #Melee

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment. Those were some real crazy days. Can you believe it was 20 years ago?

      Uptown Collective

  18. Dhid says:

    Kiko Garcia was my uncle I was just 3 years old when this all happened. It was great to come across this post and see for myself exactly what happens during that horrible time. Thank you

  19. Ruby says:

    I love this neighborhood and its people. Thank you for sharing this infomation thats lets me know my new home and neighbors better.

  20. Tee163 says:

    I have actuall video from this day that i recorded myself ….it was crazy

  21. Janini says:

    I remember this when they kill dagoberto well the police drop him from the roof all hell broke loss it was already loss because they kill kiko now it was two person in less the 1 week. I was a little girl maybe 7-8 years old I still remember my mom took my grandfather construction work close that was navy blue she made a doll of pills and clothes and they burn it down in 172st. It was a crazy time I remember my two brother throwing things to the cops because they kill their best friends Dago. thanks for the post. I just show it to my mom.

  22. Darlene says:

    Jose “Kiko” Garcia was my uncle. He was my fathers brother and until this day is a very sensitive topic for our family. It’s great to see all these pictures from that era.

  23. James Bosley says:

    I wonder if any of the cops who had to respond to the riots were from the hood.
    Food for screenplay.

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