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Photos: When the Republican National Convention Came to the East Village

With the Republican National Convention underway in Tampa, Fla., photographer Matthew Kraus shares some thoughts and images of a convention that hit closer to home.

The few years following 9/11 were an interesting time in New York City. There seemed to be a closeness among New Yorkers that only such an event could foster. And there was certainly more than a little dissatisfaction in what our government was doing, partially in the name of that day. So when the Republican Party chose New York as the location of its convention during its 2004 bid to reelect Bush, there was a sizable amount of protest in all the usual places (the U.N., City Hall, Wall Street, etc.). Meanwhile in and around the East Village, I started noticing more and more signs, posters and predominantly stickers.

In those days, I would walk my then three-year-old to school from 14th Street and Avenue C to Second Street and Avenue A, and if I took a different route every day, I could photograph no less than 20 unique versions of these “protests.” They went up with shocking volume and speed and ranged from direct confrontation with Bush, to specific 9/11 references; from general rejection of the Republican Party to actual calls for action. Read more…

As Talks Resume, Con Ed Workers Rally Near Union Square

.Mary Reinholz

Chanting slogans and waving flags, including one that read “Don’t Tread on Me,” at least 1,000 demonstrators massed this morning near the headquarters of Consolidated Edison at 4 Irving Place to support some 8,000 unionized employees locked out early Sunday morning.

The utility company and representatives of Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America resumed negotiations around noon today, assisted by federal mediators. Allan Drury, a spokesman for Con Edison, declined to give the location. Previous talks had been held in Rye, N.Y.

Meanwhile, demonstrations continued in the sweltering heat. “We’re here to show our support for the union,” said utility worker Damon Romanelli, 49. “I’ve been working for Con Ed only five years but there are guys here who have worked for them for 30 and 40 years and they locked us out. They want to cut back on our pensions and on medical. It’s not fair.” Read more…

Video: East Village and L.E.S. Protesters Target Midtown Bank

More than 100 people organized by Good Old Lower East Side, the Cooper Square Committee and other local groups rode to midtown in school buses this afternoon to protest Bank of America.

After pouring into the lobby of the bank’s branch at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, the protesters – many of whom were residents of low-income and public housing buildings in the East Village and Lower East Side – chanted “banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” and “Bank of America, bad for America” as security guards and police officers told them to disperse. Read more…

Protesters Stage Sleep-In

The Occupy Wall Street protesters that get the boot on a near-nightly basis from Union Square unveiled a new tactic early this morning: sleep-ins on the sidewalk. City Room reports that the Occupiers cited a ruling by a federal judge in 2000 that allowed people to stage sleep-ins on sidewalks as a form of organized protest. The group of more than two dozen laid out sleeping bags, blankets and cardboard in front of a Citibank and Bank of America in 40-degree weather.

Michael Simmons: EVO, Tuli and the Kiss Corps

Tuli Kupferberg by Bob CQ Simmons   copyBob Simmons Tuli Kupferberg

The funniest part of reminiscing about the uber-subversive East Village Other for The New York Times is that the latter set me on the road to rebellion before the former was even founded in 1965. I’m told I was reading by age four and within a few years the first section I grabbed when the Sunday Times arrived every weekend was the Book Review. The Grove Press ads kidnapped my imagination: Who was this Alain Robbe-Grillet guy and how do you pronounce his name?  Why was William Burroughs considered so dangerous and did his characters have meals while wearing no clothes? And speaking of clothes, how come the girls on Grove’s covers wore so little?

Obviously my nascent libido was ready for plucking, but my fascination was not simply sexual. I wanted to know why in the land of the First Amendment some had wanted to ban these books.

I bought my first issue of the Village Voice in February 1966; it contained an obituary of the abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann. Already a Dylan fan, I scanned the ads for folk clubs and was absolutely smitten by bohemia. The first girl who won my heart in elementary school was Jessica Hentoff (I don’t recall my feelings being reciprocated) and her father Nat wrote for the Voice. Soon I picked up the Voice’s competitor, The East Village Other.

No friends’ parents wrote for EVO. Scruffier, funnier and dirtier than the Voice, EVO was not simply about bohemia, it was an anarchist’s bomb in newsprint hurled at the bourgeoisie. Even at my tender age, I knew that I didn’t like the world that grown-ups had created. The troublemakers at The Other were expressing themselves in ways I could only daydream about at that point. Read more…

Students Walk Out, and March Down to Wall Street (Updated With Raw Footage)

As expected, hundreds of students from NYU and the New School showed up at Washington Square Park Wednesday afternoon, before marching down Lafayette Street to join the Occupy Wall Street protesters. “A lot of the problems that Occupy Wall Street is addressing have a particular impact on students,” said co-organizer of NYU Student Walk Out, Christy Thornton, 32. After hooking up with what she said were 60 community groups and what the Times reported were several labor unions at Foley Square, several thousand marched on to Zuccotti Park, per the AP. In the course of the evening, about 28 arrests were made, according to NY1 (update: City Room hears that 23 were arrested), and protesters reported police using pepper-spray and batons to keep the crowd at bay. (Gothamist has video of one such incident.) As you can see from Liv Buli’s report above, the Local was at Washington Square Park to see the start of it all.

Update | 11:15 a.m. Our reporter Yoo Eun Lee was also on the scene and captured the raw footage below. Read more…

Protesting the Shame Surrounding Sexual Assault

Chelsea Stark

Around 1,000 people gathered in Union Square on Saturday for “SlutWalk,” which seeks to highlight violence against women, as well society’s perception of the crime. The Local was on the scene and spoke with the diverse group of protestors.

John Penley on Occupy Wall Street

John Penley_2

Last seen staging a “takeover” of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, activist and photojournalist John Penley is planning a press conference at City Hall on Monday to address the police’s conduct during the Occupy Wall Street protests. He tells Runnin’ Scared, “Like everyone else I just got so outraged by stuff I’d seen both personally and in some of the videos.”

The Day | Walking Against Gentrification

SlowScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

East Village cyclists have been put on notice. City workers plan to discard several abandoned bikes near East First Street between Avenue A and First Avenue, according to a Department of Transportation sign spotted by EV Grieve. Better pick yours up by the end of the day.

The New York Daily News profiled former CBGB bartender Jane Danger, owner of Jane’s Sweet Buns. The shop, at 102 St. Marks Place, features baked goods with hints of alcohol, like a Rum Runner bun with nutmeg, cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, Galliano liqueur and aged rum.

Finally, Neither More Nor Less, Marty After Dark, EV Grieve, and Gothamist have photos from Saturday’s protest against East Village gentrification. Activist John Penley and his crew started at East Third Street, found its way to the BMW Guggenheim Lab and ended at what used to be Mars Bar. A poem was read. A cigarette was lit. Signs were waved, and then the protestors went home.


Rent Board Approves Increases

IMG_0483Khristopher J. Brooks Demonstrators calling for a freeze on rent increases this year gathered outside Cooper Union before tonight’s vote.

Rent prices across the city will increase 3.75 percent for tenants signing a one-year lease and 7.25 percent for tenants signing a two-year lease.

Members of the Rent Guidelines Board passed the increases by a vote of 5-4 Monday night during a meeting in Cooper Union’s Great Hall. The vote came at the conclusion of a raucous meeting during which dozens of demonstrators — many of whom chanted and held placards — called for a freeze on increases this year.

The increases, which apply only to rent stabilized apartments and lofts, take effect Oct. 1 and last until Sept. 30, 2012.

Based on the $1,700 a month average for studio apartments in the East Village, the increases approved by the board tonight translate into an average of $63.75 for one-year leases and $123.25 for two year leases. For tenants living in a one-bedroom, where the East Village averages $2,500 a month in rent, the average increases are $93.75 for one-year leases and $181.25 for two-year leases. Housing activists said after the vote that the negotiations preceding tonight’s meeting were slanted in favor of landlords.

An hour before the vote, scores of people gathered outside the Great Hall. Many of those in attendance had taken part in a rally organized by Tenants and Neighbors earlier in the afternoon.
Read more…

Sides May Meet On Bias Claim At Bar

Continental Protest, East Village, New York CityVivienne Gucwa Protesters outside the Continental bar Saturday. The bar’s owner, Trigger Smith, said that he was willing to meet to discuss concerns about discrimination at the bar.
Continental Protest, East Village, New York City 2

The owner of the Continental Bar, which is being investigated by the City Human Rights Commission, told demonstrators who gathered outside the bar on Saturday night that he would meet with them to discuss their grievances.

Since December, members of the ANSWER coalition have held protests outside the bar, saying that its bouncers have enforced a discriminatory policy that has barred some African-American patrons. In the past, the bar’s owner, Trigger Smith, has denied that the door policies were meant to keep out any particular group, but on Saturday, he emerged to say that he was willing to hold a dialogue.

Some protesters welcomed the offer, but others said they would reserve judgment.

Jeanette Caceres, a lead organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, said she was heartened that Mr. Smith was “at least showing in words that he wants to meet,” but said she has “yet to see” if he will follow through with his statement. She said that Mr. Smith  offered to meet with protesters in his bar during the picket, but the group preferred to wait and meet in a more “neutral” location.

Danny Shaw, a professor at the City University of New York said that he didn’t think it would be appropriate to meet inside the bar because its  “ambiance is not conducive to a serious sit-down about issues so intense.” Mr. Shaw, who teaches a class on cultural diversity, brought his students, some of whom, he said, had discussed friends’ complaints of being denied entrance to the bar.

Like Ms. Caceres, Mr. Shaw called Saturday’s picket “successful” but said he found Mr. Smith’s demeanor to be “mocking” and “sarcastic.” At one point in the evening, he said, Mr. Smith had joined in the chanting with the protesters.

“It was tongue-in-cheek,” Mr. Smith said of what he called his “dancing and cheering” at the picket. In a more serious tone, he acknowledged that the protesters’ “issues are legitimate” because “there’s racism in the world.”

Mr. Smith also said he is willing to meet somewhere “neutral,” with members of the group but said he did not want to meet with Ms. Caceres. He said that Ms. Caceres asked that Mr. Smith meet at the Answer office, a request that he called “irrational.”

And, as he has in the past, Mr. Smith stated that his door policy is not motivated by prejudice.

“I told them I supported Barack Obama,” he said adding that the bar’s dress code, which he said does not allow “baggy saggy jeans or bling” is not racist.

“Some minorities wear them more than others,” he said.

The picket, which ended at 9 p.m. – an hour earlier than scheduled because of the freezing weather, had “no effect” on business, Mr. Smith said, although one protester, Armide Pierre, said some potential customers “walked away” from the bar after she handed them flyers.

After the rally, Mr. Smith reflected in the warmth of his bar, where customers drank and mingled. “I’ve been here 19 years,” Mr. Smith said as a customer stood at the bar and order one of the house specials – five shots of liquor for $10.

Cyclists Gather at Bike Lane Protest

The debate over bike lanes in the East Village continued in the form of a demonstration tonight as roughly two dozen people on both sides of the issue took to the streets to weigh in.

Organizers had planned the gathering on First Avenue and 14th Street as a protest against what they said were unsafe conditions in bike lanes. But a large contingent of bike lane supporters turned out for the event, too. Ultimately, supporters of the lanes ended up outnumbering detractors.

The two sides held up signs and loudly exchanged opinions. Those in favor of the lanes argued that bikes were environmentally friendly, and that roads should be shared among motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Those against the lanes, led by Leslie Sicklick, who organized the protest, said that redesigned roadways were hazardous for pedestrians, disrupted traffic, and were an impediment to businesses.

NYU Journalism’s Helen Zhang and Spencer Magloff spoke with some of the demonstrators about the benefits and drawbacks of bike lanes.