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New Exhibit Spotlights Crown Heights Riots

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A new exhibit explores the Crown Heights riots on the occasion of their 20th anniversary. NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

The headlines are still jarring: “Racial Tensions Flare in Brooklyn,” “Little Gavin Laid to Rest.”

Dozens attended the opening of an exhibition marking the 20th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots.

"You can't really talk about Crown Heights in1991 without talking about the mayor and the newspapers and just the state of things in general in the city," said Dexter Wimberly, curator of the exhibit.

The show features a mosaic of Gavin Cato, the 7-year-old boy struck and killed by a car from a Hasidic motorcade on August 19, 1991, sparking the three-day riot.

There's also an unusual portrait of Mayor David Dinkins.

"I remember Mayor Dinkins receiving a fair share of criticism for his response to the situation, so I thought it would be interesting to do a portrait of him that played on the idea of King David, who was a beloved king of Israel but was also considered to be flawed,” said artist Tim Okamura.

In total, 23 artists give their take in the exhibit Crown Heights Gold. There's a picture of what Yankel Rosenbaum might have looked like today, complete with a wife and children, if he wasn't set upon by black teens and stabbed to death.

There's also a Yankel Rosenbaum coloring book and a painting depicting the body language of a white police officer looking over the neighborhood.

"Actually imagining what could have gone through the mind of a police officer going through a collision between religious and racial groups," said artist Jerome Lagarrigue.

The exhibition draws upon history and lessons learned, and there are also updated pictures of a more unified Crown Heights.

"A community of a lot of different neighbors who work together, who have the same hopes for their families and for their neighborhood and try to recast the vision of what Crown Heights is in a more positive light," said Rabbi Eli Cohen of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.

The exhibition at the Skylight Gallery at Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant is one of several commemorative events that community leaders are calling a “Summer of Celebration.”

The Crown Heights Gold exhibition runs through October 31.

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