NY fears new surge of rioting

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The Independent Online
A WEEK before the Democratic convention is due to open in New York, a Hispanic neighbourhood in upper Manhattan erupted in violence as demonstrators clashed with police and burned and looted cars, buildings and shops.

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'.

(Photograph omitted)