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Tompkins Riot Reunion concert set to rock this weekend

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated Aug. 5, 5:30 p.m.: The Tompkins Square Riot Reunion concert is back — live and also online. That’s the plan.

According to a Facebook event posting, the two-day free commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of the Tompkins Square Riot of 1988 will be virtual.

But word on the street — and in the park — is that the performances will also be live, with a crowd.

Per the event listing on Facebook, the concert pays homage to the night when “hundreds of ‘New York’s Finest’ converged on the streets of the Lower East Side, beating anyone in their sights in furtherance of a nonexistent park curfew, resulting in our community being galvanized like never before!!”

There reportedly will be two days of music, with Sat., Aug. 7, starting at 1 p.m. and Sun., Aug. 8, at 6 p.m.

The Aug. 7 lineup:

Ruckus Interruptus
Jezo Black + The Element
Sea Monster
Dutch Gutz

The Aug. 8 lineup:

Universal Truth Machine
The Idolizers
Hot Knives

There will also be special guest speakers. One of them, Paul DeRienzo, said his understanding is that the concert will be outdoors, in-person.

“According to [Chris] Flash it’s Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “Don’t know about livestreams. I’ve heard it’s going on in the park as scheduled.”

For years, Flash has organized the Tompkins Square Park punk shows. He did not initially respond to requests for comment.

After a concert that he co-organized in April drew a large crowd, in alleged violation of coronavirus protocols on gatherings, the Parks Department yanked Flash’s remaining permits for the year. He went to court to fight the department’s action, saying he was unfairly smeared by Parks, which alleged he had falsely claimed to be putting on a “9/11 event.” Flash, however, said the permit had been modified and he had been given a new date for the concert, so it was obviously not related to 9/11 anymore.

Speaking on Thursday, Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3, said it was the first she had heard of the weekend show in Tompkins.

“Parks permits do not come to the community board,” she noted. “This is the first I’ve heard that he’s planning to have a concert there. We’re just not included in the process.”

It was not initially clear if Flash had Parks Department permits. He reportedly separately was working on getting a sound permit from the Police Department, which is also needed to stage the event.

A Parks spokesperson told The Village Sun she was looking into the matter of the permits.

However, later on Thursday afternoon Flash indicated that he did, in fact, have the necessary Parks permits.

“Yes, both shows, this Saturday and Sunday, are on,” he told The Village Sun. “Three months of struggle, thousands in legal fees and three lost events later.”


  1. Chris Flash Chris Flash August 6, 2021

    Certain unelected and therefore unaccountable politically appointed persons on the “community” board are irked by those who dare to present alternative points of view by way of political events in Tompkins Square Park that they don’t like and/or those who remind them of this community’s politically active past when neighbors bonded in an effort to stop the onslaught of the gentrification to come.

    Yeah, it wasn’t very pretty, fighting riot kops and gentrifiers in the streets and in the park throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, but we fought the good fight and history has proven that we were RIGHT. Just look at the Lower East Side NOW.

    When our park permits were revoked, simply because a certain politician publicly embarrassed the mayor and Parks commissioner by way of Twitter posts, we were DETERMINED to protect our civil rights, as well as, by extension, those of other event organizers.

    Many thousands of dollars later, we are proud to announce that we WILL again host the annual TOMPKINS SQUARE RIOT REUNION in our beloved Tompkins Square Park this Saturday and Sunday (August 7 + 8, 2021).

    FREE SPEECH isn’t “free” unless you have $$$$$$$$ to defend it.

  2. John Penley John Penley August 6, 2021

    It would have been better if we had vaxxed together.

  3. Paul DeRienzo Paul DeRienzo August 5, 2021

    The reason the community board isn’t involved in the process is because the process is governed by the First Amendment and not local politics, thankfully.

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