Mayor David Dinkins (center), Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch (second from left) and NYPD Commissioner Lee Brown (left) at the scene of the 1991 Crown Heights riots.

25 Years Since the Riots: Police Chief Denies Cops Were Told to Stand Down

Lee Brown, who served as NYPD Commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins when the Crown Heights riots broke out exactly 25 years ago, told the NY Daily News in an interview that claims that the police were told to use restraint and “let the protesters vent their anger” are simply not true.

From the NY Daily News:

He’s known as the “Father of Community Policing,” but for New Yorkers of a certain age, former Police Commissioner Lee Brown’s name is also synonymous with the Crown Heights riots that ripped the city apart 25 years ago this week.

Born in Oklahoma in 1937, the son of sharecroppers, Brown blazed an impressive trail through the ranks of various law enforcement agencies before he became the city’s top cop in 1990.

Brown, then 52, was the second African-American police commissioner in the city’s history, after Benjamin Ward, who held the title from 1984 to 1989.

The appointment of Brown, at the hand of the city’s first black mayor, David Dinkins, was meant to signal change was afoot between the NYPD and communities of color.

Click here to continue reading at the NY Daily News.


  • Time to Account

    Brown is so full of Balogna it makes me feel sick. He claims no one else died after the first night of the riots, but that’s not true. A bearded Italian man was shot and killed on Utica Avenue because he looked Jewish/Chasidic. I don’t think the murder was ever solved. I remember hearing how Brown once had the chutzpah to show up at 770 unannounced and asked for a “yechidus” with the Rebbe, but he was turned away. Brown can lie to the press and public as long as he wants, but he will soon meet his maker and there will be no more lying.

  • 48 yr in the hood

    he is a filty lier . i was living on president st & albany at the time of the pogrom . the white cop told me sorry i cant help you we have orders . just go
    home lock yr door and close the lites

  • 89w

    the police said it unofficially to certain people around the community during the riots. It is true.

  • pure bs

    I know for a fact he is & always was a liar I was living ion the CH at the time & know for a fact that A. Bill Lynch the deputy mayor knew what was going on, As a result Dinkins knew & of course he knew. I was in the NYC AUxilairy police @ that time & the Deputy inspector was also a city employee who worked in city hall. We all knew& heard the order being given to stand down. Even Gov. Mario Cuomo knew it & told Dinkins either Dinkins did something or he would. Cuomo was ready to call out the National Guard. It was then that Ray Kelly woke up & decided he knew how to take control etc. & even then it took Brown almost getting hit in the head with a rock to wake up & let them do something. There was also the bigger threat from other sources such as the Mafia because of some connections with residents that lived in the area of Utica & President etc. plus other groups

  • Y Mochkin

    I heard over the Radio patrol at the time it was worth the police telling them on the year to back off and let him vent

  • Great Dane

    Brown is trying to recreate history. I lived through the riots and not only did Dinkins tell the police to allow the black community to vent their rage, I witnessed the cops standing by and doing nothing while glass bottles, stones, and more were thrown at us. He adds insult to injury. Shame on him and his revisionist history.

  • yankel

    Gov. Cuomo admitted to a radio show (i think Larry Gray) The mayer said “let them vent”

  • Soxfan

    Out of town Brown should just go away. He only did the bidding of the odious Dinkins and his execrable assistant Bill Lynch. Unwilling or unable to stand up to his so-called constituents, Dinkins capitulated to the mob by failing to instruct the police to take strong measures. Only after 3 days of failing to “increase the peace” or some such nonsense, were orders given to start “enforcing the law.” What a concept. That, and some rain, finally brought the pogrom to a stop.