The streets of Washington Heights, where unemployment is as high as 50 per cent, were quiet but tense yesterday as riot police kept watch. Clean-up crews removed burnt-out vehicles on orders from City Hall, which fears media attention will spawn more violence in the lead- up to the convention.
The trouble began when demonstrators who were blocked by riot police broke into small violent groups. During the clashes a man died when he fell from the roof of a building as he allegedly tried to jump on to a fire-escape to avoid police. He had been throwing bottles at the police from the rooftop. Locals said he was pushed off by a policeman.
The area has been tense since the weekend, when a local man was shot dead by a policeman. According to autopsy results, he was shot at least once in the back by an undercover police officer with a reputation for violence. Local people say the officer belongs to a rogue unit that steals from local drug dealers.
Mayor David Dinkins, responding to the allegations, promised a thorough investigation into the killing and appealed for calm. At the height of the rioting he made a television broadcast, promising that 'under no circumstances will there be any cover-up of any misbehaviour on the part of police or anyone else'.