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Posts in Crime & Policing
Stonewall at 50: A Roundtable

Stonewall at 50: A Roundtable

Today on the blog, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with a series of short essays by activists, writers, and scholars whose lives and work have been shaped by the events of June 1969 and their aftermath. This year, the scale of celebration and commemoration in New York is larger than ever — more than 4 million people are expected to attend this weekend’s festivities, and an estimated 115,000 people will be marching at Pride.

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The Girl on the Velvet Swing

The Girl on the Velvet Swing

Reviewed by Emily Brooks

In The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century, Simon Baatz explores the dramatic and violent relationship between three infamous figures in late nineteenth and early twentieth century New York City. The story of Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, and Harry Thaw, a beautiful young performer, a famous middle-aged architect, and a notorious scion of a wealthy family, respectively, captivated their contemporaries and continues to appeal to historians more than a century later.

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The State Versus Harlem

The State Versus Harlem

By Matt Kautz

Over the past few years, Americans have paid greater attention to the harm caused by opiates and rising heroin use, specifically in white, rural areas. The New York State Department of Health has dedicated a large portion of its website to sharing statistics of opioid overdoses in the state, warning signs about what addiction looks like, information on the state’s program for monitoring doctor’s prescriptions, and how those addicted can receive treatment.

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“White Tigers Eat Black Panthers:” New York City’s Law Enforcement Group

“White Tigers Eat Black Panthers:” New York City’s Law Enforcement Group

By Jarrod Shanahan

In September 1968, three young members of the Black Panther Party (BPP) were arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on charges stemming from a raucous Brooklyn street demonstration where uncollected garbage was set afire. BPP members and supporters rallied outside the court, hemmed in by New York Police Department (NYPD) cops who arrested two Party members for refusing to move behind a barricade. Upstairs, supporters were dramatically outnumbered by roughly 150 off-duty cops, many coming directly from the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, “barely concealing the guns and blackjacks tucked into their belts,” recalled mayoral aid Barry Gottehrer. “Some wore police badges.” The raucous crowd shouted “Win with [George] Wallace!” and “White power!”[1]

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The Deuce Times Two

The Deuce Times Two

By Jeffrey Escoffier

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The famous opening line of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities certainly seems like an appropriate way sum up 1970s New York, but I cite it also because the novel itself comes up in The Deuce’s first season as a book that launches a young prostitute on the road to reading and going back to school. Objectively life in New York City during the 1970s and early 80s was pretty bad — high crime rates, rampant homelessness, loose trash everywhere, whole neighborhoods of abandoned buildings crumbling and burning — yet it was an incredibly creative time as well: in music, art, performance, theater and sexuality. This was brought home to me recently when a 70-year-old retired professor of history said to me: “I know everything was so terrible in that period, but it was also incredibly exciting.”

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(Podcast) Clarence Taylor's Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City

In his most recent book, Clarence Taylor, dean of the history of the civil rights movement in New York, looks at black resistance to police brutality in the city, and institutional efforts to hold the NYPD accountable, since the late 1930s and '40s.

Listen to this interview here.

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World War I Preparedness and the Militarization of the NYPD

World War I Preparedness and the Militarization of the NYPD

By Matthew Guariglia

As the rest of the world continues to ruminate on the 100-year anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, New Yorkers also must grapple with the lasting impact the “Great War” had on their city. In the years leading up to, during, and following the United States’ 1917 entrance into the war, “preparedness” became the watchword that signaled New York’s increasing awareness of its connection to the world and the conflicts happening beyond the harbor. From food rationing to drafting soldiers, preparedness and all it involved included a full-scale reorganization of American society, including the New York City Police Department.

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Cut-Throat: The Murder of William Lurye

Cut-Throat: The Murder of William Lurye

By Andy Battle

On an average day at midcentury, New York City’s Garment District was a chaotic welter of sewing, schlepping, and schmoozing. But on May 12, 1949, the streets went silent for William Lurye, an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), the 400,000-strong body representing workers in the women’s clothing trade. Three days earlier, Lurye had been shoved into in a telephone booth in the lobby of a building on West Thirty-Fifth Street that housed dozens of loft-style garment factories. There, two assailants had stabbed the thirty-seven year-old father of four in the neck with an icepick.

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A "Madhouse in all its Naked Ugliness and Horror": An Interview with Stacy Horn

A "Madhouse in all its Naked Ugliness and Horror": An Interview with Stacy Horn

Today on Gotham, associate editor David Thomson speaks with Stacy Horn, author of the new book Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad & Criminal in 19th Century New York, about the dark history of Blackwell's Island, known more commonly today as Roosevelt Island.

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