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Crown Heights Commemorating 25th Anniversary Of Riots

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A day-long commemoration was held in Brooklyn to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots.

CBS2's Dave Carlin reported the Aug. 19, 1991 riots began after 7-year-old Gavin Cato was struck and killed by a car from a motorcade carrying the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson. It touched off a wave of violence that also took the life of 29-year-old Jewish scholar Yankel Rosenbaum, who was stabbed.

WCBS 880's Mike Smeltz reported the focus of the ceremony on Eastern Parkway was unity.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the community has chosen to not let itself be defined by what happened 25 years ago, but what is taking place now.

"Let our children know that the real signs of improvement is when children are able to come together and build together," Adams said.

Carmel Cato, Gavin's father, told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern it's an emotional day for him.

"I appreciate all the good things that all of the different people are doing," Cato said. "It's a great thing."

There was controversy preceding the event as some felt it was too close to an anniversary party with the promise of live music and games for kids.

Norman Rosenbaum, the brother of Yankel Rosenbaum, called the ceremony insensitive to his brother's murder.

"It's just totally inappropriate -- inappropriate," Rosenbaum told CBS2's Carlin. "This is not a time for cotton candy. This is not a time for amusements."

Organizer Devorah Halberstam said the ceremony was about marking how the Crown Heights community has come together since the riots.

Nearly 200 people were injured during the riots. Police cars were set on fire and the area suffered about $1 million in property damage.

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