A Jewish driver kills a black youth in a hit-and-run accident in Harlem and is not prosecuted. The black community's reaction ends in the death of a white motorist, but should the killer be held responsible for his actions?

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (scenes deleted)
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Reverend Ott
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Joshua Berger
Beatrice Winde ...
Corina Roberts
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Damon Saleem ...
Daryl Johnson
Kevin Thigpen ...
Isaac Roberts
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Mrs. De Santis
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Storyline

Detectives Briscoe and Logan investigate a hit and run accident that killed a young African-American boy. The case quickly takes on racial overtones when several witnesses identify the driver as a Jew. Before the detectives get too far into the case the driver, Joshua Berger, turns himself in insisting it was an accident. The traffic bureau confirms that, based on all of the evidence at the scene, Berger was not driving fast and did his best to try and avoid hitting the boy. Berger is not charged which outrages the black community and one of its leaders, Reverend Ott. It leads to a riot where a white man is pulled from his car and beaten to death in front of his wife. Using videotape the police the police identify the main assailant but he claims asylum in a local church. Written by garykmcd

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13 April 1994 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Based on two separate incidents:
  • The Brooklyn Crown Heights riot. A three-day racial riot that occurred from August 19 to August 21, 1991 in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York City. It turned black residents and Orthodox Jewish residents against each other, causing deteriorated racial relations. The riots began on August 19, 1991, after two children of Guyanese immigrants were unintentionally struck by an automobile in the motorcade of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader of a Jewish religious movement. One child died and the second was severely injured. This event was said to cause tensions between Jewish and black residents to erupt. In its wake, several Jews were seriously injured; one Orthodox Jewish man was killed; and a non-Jewish man, apparently mistaken by rioters for a Jew, was killed by a group of black men. The riots were a major issue in the 1993 mayoral race, contributing to the defeat of Mayor David Dinkins, an African American, who was blamed for an ineffective police response. Ultimately, black and Jewish leaders developed an outreach program between their communities to help calm and possibly improve racial relations in Crown Heights over the next decade.


  • The Rodney King case and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In the case of Rodney King, he was an African American taxi driver who became nationally known after being beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers following a high-speed car chase on March 3, 1991. A witness, George Holliday, videotaped much of the beating from his balcony, and sent the footage to local news station KTLA. The footage shows four officers surrounding King, several of them striking him repeatedly, while other officers stood by. Parts of the footage were aired around the world, and raised public concern about police treatment of minorities in the United States. Four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. Three were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted the fourth of assault with a deadly weapon but failed to reach a verdict on the use of excessive force. The jury deadlocked at 8-4 in favor of acquittal at the state level. The acquittals are generally considered to have triggered the 1992 Los Angeles riots, in which 55 people were killed and over 2,000 were injured, ending only when the California national guard was called in. The acquittals also led to the federal government's obtaining grand jury indictments for violations of King's civil rights. The trial of the four in a federal district court ended on April 16, 1993, with two of the officers being found guilty and subsequently imprisoned. The other two were acquitted again.


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Quotes

Adam Schiff: What happened to "Give me your huddled masses"? What the hell has happened to this city?
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User Reviews

 
One of the best
28 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I always thought this was the best episode ever made of Law and Order. Long before they went down the path of ending an episode neatly by having unrealistic confessions or discoveries, LAO made well-written, excellently acted episodes that made you actually surprised this was on television. Usually shows like this are left-leaning propaganda machines, and its ironic that Michael Moriarty would leave the show for just that reason, but this is an example of all sides of a volatile issue getting a fair look. No show since the airing of this one episode in 1994 has come close to depicting fair insight into the number one issue in the USA.


8 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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