Friday, January 24, 2014
How 1 resilient East Village resident helped save Jerry's Newsstand
[Photo by Michael Paul via Facebook.]
On Dec. 10, East Village resident Kelly King read the news that the city shut down Jerry's Newsstand on Astor Place. She was devastated. For her, Jerry Delakas was a familiar face in a neighborhood that continued to quickly evolve, and not always for the better.
A subsequent photo that Jeremiah Moss published that day at Vanishing New York brought her to tears.
[Photo via Jeremiah Moss]
Jerry told Jeremiah that the city did not tell him they were seizing his stand he had operated here outside the downtown 6 entrance since 1987. (Jerry sublet the newsstand, and the city later reportedly blocked his attempts to transfer the license to his name.)
On Dec. 11, King made flyers and hung them on the shuttered newsstand. She decided to hold a rally the next day for Jerry, who was still coming to the newsstand every day as he always did.
"I am going to stand up for him. I am going to give what I have to give," King, who first moved here in 1985, told us that day.
The early rallies were sparsely attended… A Fox reporter showed up on Astor Place, though it turned out that she was doing a story about customer names on the cups at the Starbucks behind the newsstand
[Photo by Michael Paul via Facebook.]
Still, King and several residents, including East Village photographer Michael Paul, Judy Rosenblatt as well as CB2 member Marty Tessler, continued to stand out in the cold and hand out flyers and encourage people to call the Public Advocate's office. They also created a Save Jerry's Facebook page.
Anyway, you likely know the rest of the story. Jerry's plight eventually picked up momentum in the media. With the help of lawyer Arthur Schwartz, who worked pro bono, and the intervention of Mayor de Blasio, the city agreed to reopen the stand (though Jerry has to pay a $9,000 fine).
Now that Jerry's Newsstand is back up and running, we asked King a few questions via Facebook about why she decided to fight on his behalf...
What initially inspired you to help Jerry?
Jerimiah Moss's photo on your site of Jerry locked out in the cold made me cry. I saw Taylor Mead being aggressively forced out of his home. I regretted not protesting [what was happening] to Taylor Mead. When I saw Jerry, I was so sad — and mad.
Was there a point where you thought that there wasn't any chance to get a new license for Jerry?
I never felt there wasn't a chance. Never. I just made the commitment to try as long as it took. You have to be committed.
[Photo from Dec. 22 via the Save Jerry's Facebook page]
What do you think was the turning point for Jerry?
Rev. Billy and his choir were a real turning point for Jerry. [Rev. Billy turned out for a rally on Dec. 22.] It helped balance out the abuse that Jerry was suffering. That really rebuilt his spirit. Something lightened up. He made more people aware of the situation in the community.
[Photo via the Save Jerry's Facebook page]
Personally, what was the highlight for you in helping Jerry this past month?
The highlight was Jerry giggling to himself ... after the open house at Gracie Mansion on Jan. 5. He was giggling over my pushing past all the "no's" at the gates of the open house with the little Jerry's Newsstand that we made to give to the Mayor. There were all these "no's," but somehow we got to "yes." He was giggling thinking about it. Seeing him appreciate the odds, and the results, to giggle thinking about it. That was the best.
Photo by Michael Paul via Facebook.
Previously on EV Grieve:
City shutters Jerry's Newsstand on Astor Place for 'operating illegally'
The story about the city shutting down Jerry's Newsstand on Astor Place actually gets worse
More about saving Jerry's Newsstand
Helping Save Jerry
City says Jerry Delakas can operate Astor Place Newsstand