DIY documentarian serves time for refusing to submit video of police brutality during Tompkins Square Park Riots

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Aug 6 1988

Location: 

Lower East Side, New York

Documentarian Clayton Patterson captured video of police brutality during the Tompkins Square Park riots in the summer of 1988. When District Attorney Robert Morgenthau ordered Patterson to hand over his camera and tapes as evidence, Patterson refused, citing distrust of the criminal justice system. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but after a 10-day hunger strike, his lawyers negotiated a deal to free him.

Patterson has been a photo- and video-documentarian of New York's Lower East Side since the early 1980's, capturing both the neighborhood's neglect and its distinctive culture through images of gangs, squatters, local characters, schoolchildren, drag queens and hardcore bands. He has documented the area's profound transformation over the intervening decades, compiling a vast archive of images, art and ephemera.

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