By On This Day in NYC's History


On August 9th, 1997: Abner Louima was brutally assaulted by NYPD officers after being arrested outside a Brooklyn nightclub. Louima was out at Club Rendez-Vous, a nightclub in East Flatbush, when he and several other men interceded in a fight between two women. Several police officers–including Justin Volpe, Charles Schwarz, Thomas Bruder, and Thomas Wiese–from the 70th Precinct were dispatched to the scene. When Volpe was struck in the ensuing scuffle, he wrongly (and purposefully) identified Louima as the perpetrator, after which he arrested him on charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration, and resisting arrest. After Louima’s arrest, the officers beat the innocent Haitian man with their fists, nightsticks, and police radios on the ride to the station, after which Louima was strip-searched and put in a holding cell where the beating continued. The assault culminated with Louima being viciously sodomized. Louima’s extensive injuries caused him to spend two months in the hospital. Later that month, an estimated 7,000 demonstrators marched on to City Hall and the 70th Precinct in a protest that was dubbed “Day of Outrage Against Police Brutality and Harassment.” Louima’s case was mentioned in the 1998 Amnesty International Report and Mike McAlary, a journalist who uncovered Louima’s brutalization, went on to win the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for his exposé. In the criminal trials that ensued, Volpe was sentenced to 30 years in prison without parole. Louima’s subsequent civil suit resulted in a settlement of $8.75 million, the largest police brutality settlement in NYC history.


On August 9th, 1992: The highly publicized revival of Tennessee Williams’ famous play Streetcar Named Desire closed at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre after 137 performances. The play starred Alec Baldwin as Stanley and Jessica Lange as Blanche and was so hugely successful that is was filmed for television.

%name On This Day In NYCs History: An Innocent Man Was Arrested and Beaten
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On August 9th, 1959: Rapper and record producer Kurt Walker–better known by his stage name Kurtis Blow–was born. Kurtis Blow was the first commercially successful rapper, the first to sign with a major record label, and the first to produce a certified gold record rap song. In 1979, at age twenty, Kurtis Blow was signed by Mercury Records and released his first hit “The Breaks,” which sold half a million copies and went gold. Deeply committed to his religion, Kurtis Blow now teaches ministry classes at Nyack College after becoming an ordained minister in 2009. He is also involved in several hip hop churches across the country, where he always suggests, “Don’t get twisted, God has always existed.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Media Anarchist

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