Monday, August 27, 2018

Jerry "The Peddler" and the Quiets Heroes of New York

Bottom, photo of the tanks rolling in to evict the squatters on E. 13th Street, by John Penley.
Top and Middle Jerry "The Peddler" Wade inside and outside of C Squat.
Middle illustration by Caroline Shepard.

One of my favorite parts of New York are the people.
There are legends out there, quiet heroes, out living their lives. I run into them from time to time.
Last week, I had the chance to talk with Jerry "the Peddler,"
one of the legends of the New York squatting movement.
He's been a part of this movement for well over three decades.
I first met Jerry in jail after the eviction at Esperaza Garden in February of 2000.
We've been chatting since then.  An interview here, a greeting there.
He's one of the stars of my upcoming books, Sustainable Urbanism and Direct Action and a future volume on friendship and fighting.
Part of what I appreciate about Jerry is his capacity to laugh at himself, bringing humor into
movements for human freedom.
A conversation with Jerry is a story growing up in Texas and Vietnam, the anti-war movement and squatting.
I asked him about some of the fights along the way.
"The fight for abortion, the fight against the War on Drugs, those are good fights," he replied.
We talked about squatting and the friendships that made it all possible.
And he walked me through the C located at 155 Avenue C in the Alphabet City neighborhood of Manhattan.
Jerry pointed at a few of the posters and old newspapers on the wall, a Newsday headline, dubbed, "Squtters Last Stand."
"That really was our last last stand," he recalled describing the eviction of Dos Blockos on East 9th Street.
We sat and talked through the story.  Over the years, Jerry had taken me on his tour of the squatting movement in New York City.  We've talked about what it all meant, the fights and the conflicts and the personalities that made it all work.
Finishing the interview, I rode through the East Village, down to East River Park to see my friends, the city teeming with action. Its a pleasure to knew a few of the village legends, the squatters, cyclists, and gardeners who make sustainable urbanism possible,  who still give this place life. 

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