The Crown Heights Riot of 30 years ago is barely remembered today. One of its primary instigators, Sonny Carson, has been forgotten. My introduction to Carson, once an important figure in Brooklyn politics, came in 1990 when I walked from my home in Victorian Flatbush to Church Avenue.
Walking along Church I heard shouting. There was some kind of tumult erupting. The Family Red Apple grocery store was being picketed by Carson and his minions.
An ugly dispute had broken out between the Korean owner of the store and Giselaine Felissaint, a Haitian woman. The owner charged she had stolen goods, while Felissaint said she paid for them. Carson insisted that the Koreans’ 24-hour greengroceries were setting out to destroy the black communities and black culture. He insisted that the store be transferred to black ownership, and his goons threatened anyone who entered the store. As I did. Demonstrators shouted, "We make you into chop suey" in mock-Chinese accents. Carson declared, "We’re at war" and stood outside the Red Apple shouting, "Funerals, not boycotts."
Fred Siegel is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a City Journal contributing editor.
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