The Washington Heights Uprising of 1992: Dominican Belonging and Urban Policing in New York City

Journal of Urban History

Situated at the intersection of Latinx postwar migration, community formation, and urban politics, this article explores the Washington Heights uprising of 1992 as a lens through which to historicize Dominican belonging and urban policing in late twentieth-century New York. It tracks the history of New York’s Dominican community beginning in the early 1960s and their myriad struggles leading to the climactic uprising which was spurred by the police shooting of twenty-three-year-old Jose “Kiko” Garcia. Garcia’s murder galvanized Washington Heights’ Dominican community, prompting deep communal reflection and action concerning the future of Dominican belonging and mobilization in New York City. Meanwhile, Rudolph Giuliani’s sharp demonization of the uprising helped secure his mayoral victory the following year. His ascendance to the city’s highest office through racial antagonism held significant implications for New York’s Latinx people and the evolution of urban policing both in the United States and beyond.