New York has a long history of protest, both nonviolent and less so. “Whose Streets? Our Streets! New York City: 1980-2000,” a new exhibition at the Bronx Documentary Center, on view until March 5, collects images of New Yorkers as they march, riot and demonstrate. From chaotic confrontations such as the Tompkins Square Park Riot in 1988 to more organized protests and street theater, the show brings together images from 38 independent photojournalists who capture the anger and the glee on display: An East Village man presides over an overturned car like “Liberty On The Barricades.” Demonstrators line the subway tracks during the Day of Outrage, a demonstration against the 1987 Howard Beach manslaughter verdict in the death of Michael Griffith. Mothers hold signs and photos of their sons in a 1998 protest against police brutality.
While some reasons for dissent have shifted over the years, the show is a reminder that much has stayed the same. As the show’s press release states, “residents grappled with social issues including race relations, police brutality, housing and gentrification, AIDS and gay and lesbian rights, reproductive rights, U.S. foreign policy and military actions, art and the culture wars, environmental and animal rights issues, and education and labor relations.” In 17 years since the show leaves off, that list has only grown.