A Memorial for Michael Shenker

A Memorial for Michael Shenker from The Local East Village on Vimeo.

With chants, signs and a New Orleans-style brass band, about 100 friends of community activist Michael Shenker honored his life with a parade-like procession Saturday through the streets of the East Village.

The procession, which began near Mr. Shenker’s home on the southeast side of Tompkins Square Park, wound its way past some of Mr. Shenker’s favorite places in the neighborhood and ended several hours later with a memorial service at The Catholic Worker on Second Avenue and First Street.

Mr. Shenker, who died earlier this month of liver failure at the age of 54, was a squatter and activist known for his advocacy on housing issues and the preservation of community gardens.

With chants of “Long live Michael,” members of Saturday’s procession – led by Aresh Javadi, a puppeteer who knew Mr. Shenker for a dozen years – spontaneously pulled weeds at a garden on Avenue C (before the space’s perplexed owner asked them to leave) and stopped at such locations as 319 East Eighth Street.

It was there that Fran Luck first met Mr. Shenker 25 years ago, when Mr. Shenker was working to turn what was then an unoccupied and neglected building into a popular squat. Today, the building is fully renovated with modern amenities.

“The gathering today shows the power, not only of Michael, but of an era we went in together for our neighborhood against gentrification,” said Ms. Luck.