#TBT: Wilding For Respect – The 1992 Washington Heights Uprising Remembered

Almost 28 years ago, Washington Heights erupted in righteous indignation over the police murder of José “Kiko” García who was only 22 when he was gunned down like a dog in the street in a building in the lower Heights. Pictured here in white shirt is our Editor-In-Chief Led Black taking part in the 1992 Washington Heights Uprising.

BY Led Black

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992

“Go to hell to the foul cop who shot Garcia.” Nas – Halftime

July 3, 1992

The moment I stepped out of the 1 train station at 191st street on St. Nick, I could feel the electricity in the air, it was palpable. This was not unusual in the Washington Heights of that era, but this was different. It seemed to be pulsating. Magnetically, that energy pulled us south, all the way to 163rd street, which was the source of the emanation. For the most part, the streets in route to our destination were quiet but there was a bubbling anger underneath the surface.

Keep in mind, that as a streetwise teenager who was a native of Washington Heights, I rarely ventured outside of the 180’s and 190’s that were my stomping grounds. In other words, to avoid being chased and possibly beaten by other Dominican kids, I never went to Dyckman to the north or beyond 179th to the south.

When I finally arrived at 163rd street, I couldn’t believe my eyes, the street cats were actually going at the cops. Bottles were being thrown, anything and everything was being set on fire. At the very beginning of the uprising, the cops were being run off. As I made my way back to my neck of the woods, the entire neighborhood seemed to combust.

The flames of the riot were engulfing everything in its path. I actually saw a dude I grew up with, chasing a cop car down the hill on 193rd street and St. Nicolas avenue. It appeared that the entire world had been turned upside down. This was also the first time I had seen the entire neighborhood come together instead of the block by block infighting that was so common back then.

At the time, I felt the urge to document what was happening, so I pulled out a cheap disposable camera and took the pictures you see here. I was a teenager in these pictures and could not completely fathom what was taking place all around me, but I knew this event would have a profound effect on our hood.

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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