Unlike previous years, yesterday's peaceful May Day demonstrations came and went without any clashes with police, but there was an ersatz riot in Tompkins Square Park last night. The reenactment of the infamous 1988 Tompkins Square Park police riots was staged by actors for the film adaptation of Eleanor Henderson's novel Ten Thousand Saints.

As we noted yesterday, the August 1988 riots were sparked when police violently cleared the park to enforce a 1 a.m. curfew imposed by Community Board 3—ironically, last night's ersatz riot went well past 1 a.m. Over 100 complaints of police brutality were lodged following the real riot, and photographic evidence shows that some officers taped over their badge numbers before they violently swept through the East Village streets near the park. From a New York Times editorial concerning an NYPD report issued later that month:

As the confrontation began to escalate, a panicky captain, finding himself in command because his deputy chief had left the scene, issued a ''10-85 forthwith'' radio call for help.

''This call is widely interpreted as being of an extreme emergency nature,'' the report says. Hundreds of police flooded into the area, though they ''had not been briefed about the event . . . were not equipped for such an encounter . . . were not under the direct supervision of a superior officer.''

Once they arrived, no one sought to form them into teams and supervise their deployment. ''Some officers obviously responded badly to these conditions,'' the report says, ''taking excessive independent actions and attempting to evade accountability by concealing their identities.''

If you can't wait until Ten Thousand Saints comes out to watch the riot reenactment, here's Clayton Patterson's stunning footage from the real thing.