Showing posts with label Anarchy Row. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anarchy Row. Show all posts

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Plywood removal at the former P.S. 64

Reader photo above; the rest by Stacie Joy 

Workers last Thursday removed the sagging, wheatepaste-filled plywood from the Ninth Street side of the former P.S. 64 between Avenue B and Avenue C. 

We expected to see some replacement plywood go up in its place... but for now, as these photos this week by EVG contributor Stacie Joy show, you can still see into the old school (and, later, Charas/El Bohio Community Center)... only the doorways remain boarded up... 
According to a source on the block, there has been activity inside the long-empty (23 years) building... with an executive-type overseeing work, including window and door replacement. It's unknown who's in charge of work here or the scope of the renovations. 

As previously reported, ownership of the property is in transition. In January, Supreme Court Justice Melissa Crane ruled that Madison Realty Capital could move forward with a foreclosure against building landlord Gregg Singer after years of delay. 

Madison Realty Capital reportedly provided Singer with a $44 million loan on the property in 2016. Court records show that he failed to repay the balance by its maturity date in April 2016, and by that September, the lender filed to foreclose, as reported by The Real Deal.

Singer, who bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998 for $3.15 million, has wanted to turn the building into a dorm, though those plans never materialized. There has been a call to return the building for community use in years past. 
The plywood removal also uncovered an undated piece of art (the work is by Seth Tobocman, and we'll have more about the backstory in a separate post) ...
... that reads (thanks Jeremiah Moss for the inscription): 
"A 7-year-old drew this picture at a class here at Charas. The boy was upset because he and his family had found the body of a woman who had been decapitated on their doorstep. That was in the 1980's when they called the Lower East Side the warzone. Now all of N.Y.C. is a warzone. The world is a bad neighborhood. We need cultural centers like Charas more than ever to keep our sanity."
Meanwhile, a tent or two with unhoused residents remains under the sidewalk bridge (the site of multiple sweeps by the city) ... as well as a sitting-in-a-car detail from the Massachusetts-based Madison Security Group hired to keep people (TikTokers!) from getting inside the building. 

Previously on EV Grieve

Monday, June 13, 2022

Remembering Jose Fernandez

Photos by Stacie Joy

Friends came out today to pay their respects to longtime LES resident Jose "Joe" Hernandez, who died late last week. He had been hospitalized with liver disease. Hernandez was 71.

In recent months, Hernandez was among the handful of unhoused residents living in tents along Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C, a stretch of sidewalk that has been a frequent target of the Mayor's encampment sweeps. (This was at least the eighth time in recent months where the city conducted a sweep here.)
Hernandez, pictured above, told this to EVG contributor Stacie Joy in April:
I've been here for four months now. I am looking for a one-bedroom apartment for my wife and me. I'm retired now. I was a superintendent and building manager for buildings on the Lower East Side. When I was younger, I worked for the Board of Education on Eldridge Street and Forsyth. A friend of mine was sleeping here on Ninth Street, and he was leaving his tent, so I took it. I get a pension and Social Security. Being homeless is not easy, including with the police department. They are very rude. They want us out of here. My wife is Amalia Jordan; we're common law. She’s staying at Masaryk Towers. 

During the vigil today, the NYPD and other city agencies returned to this sidewalk space and tossed the belongings of the individuals here.

Here's more from 1010 WINS, in a bad-look story for the city administration, "Cops sweep East Village homeless encampment during vigil for dead resident."

Mourners, including residents, neighbors, activists and a reverend from the church across the street, were outraged that police had chosen to carry out the sweep during the vigil.

And... 

After police and sanitation workers had finished destroying the camp, the vigil continued as planned, though maybe tinged with more anger and bitterness than it otherwise would have been.

As 1010 WINS noted, "After getting robbed twice in city shelters, Hernandez decided he preferred to live on the streets — where he spent his final years as his health failed."

He lost all his clothes and stockpile of food during a sweep in March.

"The sanitation truck stands there, and they start throwing everything in the truck," he said. "I was living there… They throw all the stuff out, clothing. They were begging but they didn't care."
Hernandez's "loved ones remember him as a kind, gentle and loving person, who, despite having very little, took immense joy in giving."  

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Questions, and concerns, remain over private security detail outside the former P.S. 64

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

A security detail remains outside the former P.S. 64 (and later Charas/El Bohio Community Center) on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C.

As we first reported over the Memorial Day weekend, employees of the Massachusetts-based Madison Security Group started to watch the property... and near where several unhoused residents have been living under the sidewalk bridge in recent months (and the site of several controversial sweeps via city agencies).

There was speculation that the security was there to watch the tents under the sidewalk bridge, perhaps hired by nearby residents concerned by their presence. One local resident told us: "A Madison Security car was stationed alongside the encampment all last night with its lights flashing at them."

However, EVG contributor Stacie Joy spoke with one of the security guards, who said he was explicitly there on eight-hour shifts to monitor the building and serve as an impediment for people attempting to sneak inside the long-abandoned school-community center. (There have been reports of kids partying and other activities inside the property.)

The security guard said that he did not care about the tents or the Christodora House — the former P.S. 64 was his only interest. He also stated that he didn't know who had hired them.

Ownership of the property is in transition. In JanuarySupreme Court Justice Melissa Crane ruled that Madison Realty Capital could move forward with a foreclosure against building landlord Gregg Singer after years of delay. 

Madison Realty Capital reportedly provided Singer with a $44 million loan on the property in 2016. Court records show that he failed to repay the balance by its maturity date in April 2016, and by that September, the lender filed to foreclose, as reported by The Real Deal.

Singer, who bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998 for $3.15 million, has wanted to turn the building into a dorm, though those plans never materialized. There has been a call to return the building for community use in years past. 

As for the security, we witnessed the Madison car leave Ninth Street and drive around to the 10th Street side of the building, though the detail didn't remain there. An unmarked NYPD vehicle also stopped by on Ninth Street, yelling at the security guard seated in the car about being too close to a fire hydrant.

The security has also impacted the Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish across Ninth Street. Since 1986, Trinity's Services And Food for the Homeless (SAFH) has provided lunch for 200-300 people each weekday. However, church officials say the security detail on the block has kept some people in need from coming through.

"While I'm happy to see that security has returned to keep the building safe, the constant presence of vehicles with flashing lights and guards in bulletproof vests has definitely been a deterrent to some of our soup kitchen's guests coming to receive food and assistance," Trinity's Rev. William Kroeze (aka Pastor Will) told us. "Many of our guests are undocumented and have complicated relationships with law enforcement, and they can't readily discern the difference between law enforcement and private security. It's important that Trinity always be a place of sanctuary and refuge for those most on the margins of society, and I'm concerned that for some of our guests, we are not such a place at the current time."

Meanwhile, two tents remain under the sidewalk bridge. There were six-seven tents at the peak this spring, with residents numbering up to 10.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Reader report: Private security firm now keeping tabs on unhoused encampment on 9th Street

Photo by Jose Garcia 

Several readers have noted that the unhoused encampment is back under the sidewalk bridge along the former P.S. 64 on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. (The city has unsuccessfully attempted to place the residents in shelters multiple times this spring, resulting in several arrests.) 

The arrival of the tents also prompted someone to hire private security. It's not known who may have enlisted the services of Madison Security Group.

Per one local resident: "A Madison Security car was stationed alongside the encampment all last night with its lights flashing at them."


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Report: 8 arrested in latest sweep of unhoused encampment on 9th Street

Photo from Sunday by Stacie Joy 

City agencies returned this morning to Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C, where a group of unhoused residents has been living in tents under the sidewalk bridge at the former P.S. 64

The result: 8 arrests.

Here's more from The New York Times
The protest began as dozens of police officers, accompanied by a sanitation crew and a single homeless outreach worker, forced out the people living in the encampment for at least the seventh time in the last six weeks. 

[Tompkins Square Park] has become ground zero to the small but vocal movement protesting Mr. Adams's policies for addressing homelessness. "Housing is a human right, fight, fight, fight," the protesters chanted as police vans pulled up on neighboring streets around 9 a.m., and campers and supporters from a host of mutual aid and tenant activist groups taped off the tents with red packing tape. 
After a standoff, police arrested seven activists and one of the unhoused residents. 
All went willingly except Johnny Grima, 37, a homeless man who has emerged as the public face of the protests. He has been arrested three other times in the last month. 

As officers wrestled him out of his tent, then carried him toward a waiting police van, a protester shouted: "Shame on you. Is that how you treat houseless people?" 
According to city stats cited by the Times, there have been more than 700 cleanups from March 18 to May 1 — many of them of the same site multiple times — and 39 people have accepted the placement into shelters.

Unhoused residents have said that the shelter system is not safe. Read our interviews with some of the Ninth Street residents here.

Previously on EV Grieve:


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Anarchy Row

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

Updated 5 p.m. There have been multiple arrests during an hours-long standoff here today between activists and the NYPD and reps from other city services. Gothamist has a story here. We'll update later.

Several unhoused residents live under the sidewalk bridge alongside the long-empty former P.S. 64 on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. 

This corridor has a variety of nicknames, including Anarchy Row.
Last Thursday, a sweep team with members of the NYPD, Department of Sanitation and social services reportedly arrived here without notice and “destroyed tents and bedding,” as 1010 WINS documented

The sweep was part of a renewed effort by Mayor Adams “to crack down on street homelessness,” as Gothamist put it. As The New York Times observed in an article from Sunday: “Thirty years after the Tompkins Square riots, the problems around homelessness remain the same.” 

On Monday, reps from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) returned to Anarchy Row...
... and posted notices of another sweep today. [Updated 11 a.m.: Gothamist is live-tweeting from the scene.]

Ahead of this, EVG contributor Stacie Joy spoke with these residents. 

Here are their stories. 

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 Derrick Parker, 67 years old
“Social Security is the issue. My Social Security debit card doesn’t work anymore. I have called several times to resolve the problem and fix my PIN number, but it’s never fixed. Pastor Will [of Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish] has been assisting me. I see the government knocking people off SS. They pick certain cases, and they can’t get their funds, and they become homeless. My wife, Dale, died on August 11 of 2020. She had cirrhosis of the liver from drinking and had a heart attack. I’m a licensed private investigator and bounty hunter. I had a stroke and have diabetes. Everything hit at once. Now I have trouble walking. I hope the Social Security director will look at my case and help me fix it.” 

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 Jose Hernandez, 71 years old
“I’ve been here for four months now. I am looking for a one-bedroom apartment for my wife and me. I’m retired now. I was a superintendent and building manager for buildings on the Lower East Side. When I was younger, I worked for the Board of Education on Eldridge Street and Forsyth. A friend of mine was sleeping here on Ninth Street, and he was leaving his tent, so I took it. I get a pension and Social Security. Being homeless is not easy, including with the police department. They are very rude. They want us out of here. My wife is Amalia Jordan; we’re common law. She’s staying at Masaryk Towers.” 

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Sinthia
“I was in the 1989 Tompkins Square Park homeless evictions at that tent city. I have only been here, on Ninth Street, for a week. I was on the trains before that. I’ve been homeless for two years. Ten days before they stopped the evictions due to the pandemic, I was evicted. We were in hotels for a while with my teenage son, my husband and me. It all fell apart. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve been homeless. I am selling my paintings. I’m an artist. I tried to rent a place with my stimulus check, but no one would rent to me. They wanted better credit than we have. They didn’t say why, just that we didn’t get the space. The bathroom had a separate key out in the hallway. Mayor Adams says he thinks we live in a pile of needles.” 

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George the Third, aka Gee, 38 years old
“I’ve been here one week. I slept wherever it was warmest. I was looking for the warmest spot I could find. Cops would smack a stick down next to your head. Or hit you. I’ve been pepper-sprayed by cops; they threw water on me. I would stay on the trains, in Tompkins, wherever. In Tompkins, I always needed blankets; sometimes they had bugs. What I really need is an ID. I need a photo ID. I lost all my identity. I can’t get a Social Security card without, like, five points of identification. Identity theft is a major thing with the mafia, that and extortion. I need a birth certificate and paperwork. I need a P.O. box so I can get mail. Mail is important. I’ve been a Planet Fitness member for years, never late on my payment. Maybe they would let me get some mail there. I can work out, shower and use the massage chairs.” 

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