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On a Tour of Former Squats, Trash Artists and Cat-Poo Painters

A couple of weeks ago, the founders of the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space told The Local they had started hosting “spontaneous tours” of squats and community gardens. This past weekend, we joined just such a tour, as longtime squatter activist Frank Morales took visitors on a winding, nearly three-hour journey through the interiors of four urban homesteads.

Standing outside C-Squat, where MoRUS is to be housed, Mr. Morales described homelessness as “the consequence of state repression.”

“That was the point of entry for our taking buildings – to create communities of self defense, to defend against being forcibly moved into the shelter system,” he said.

Homesteaders recalled the raucous days of the late 1980s, when squatters controlled as many as two dozen East Village and Lower East Side buildings. Read more…

Sitting Down to Talk Squatting With Homesteading Museum Founders

MoRUS foundersJared Malsin MoRUS founders Laurie Mittelmann, left, and Bill
DiPaola, right.

After seven months of negotiations, the creators of the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space have finally signed a lease and are busy fundraising, compiling photos and video, and renovating the storefront inside the legendary collective building C-Squat, where the East Village’s first squatting and homesteading museum will be housed.

The signing of the lease on Thursday with the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board marked the formal launch of the project, which is already staging what organizer Laurie Mittelmann calls “spontaneous tours” of squats, community gardens and other sites of street-level confrontation with police and developers over the control of urban space in the East Village since the 1970s.

On Tuesday, The Local visited the Museum’s dedicated video compiling facility (we were asked not to disclose its location), where two of the project’s 30 volunteers were hunched over computers logging video onto hard drives. (Time’s Up has donated over 400 hours of footage to the museum.) On one video, police were issuing a ticket to performance artist Reverend Billy during a 2006 demonstration.

During our visit, Ms. Mittelmann and co-director Bill DiPaola spoke about their vision and plans for the new museum. Read more…