Reclaim The Streets NYC

SUMMARY: RTS NYC brought together long-time activists and creative community to advocate in direct and creative ways for specific quality of life issues in the city and, in general, for leadership and policies that place communities and people over the aggressive global corporatizing forces driving massive changes in society. This was the era of NAFTA, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, both parties firmly furthering neoliberal economic policy (regardless of social agendas), the increase of influence of Wall Street and privatizing of public spaces and services. These RTS-NYC acts were forerunners of the global massive protests against the Iraq War, the Occupy Movement and the climate movement.  On a personal level, these were profound learning experiences in community collaboration, police relations and our justice system as well as a starting point for many friendships that have spanned decades. There are many stories to tell including the animal choir in the NYC tombs– but, for now, a recap from the archives:

From the Reclaim the Streets NYC website archive….

New York City’s first Reclaim the Streets took place on Sunday, October 4, 1998, on Broadway in Manhattan. Billed as a “free form dance performance protest street party,” it featured street performance, live pirate radio, a tripod sitting, a sound system on bicycle trailers, and a thousand people using the streets of New York City as they were meant to be used: as a gathering place, a meeting place, a dancing place, a place for themselves to enjoy without the ever-present danger of the automobile.

The second Reclaim the Streets was in April 1999 and was part of the successful movement to prevent the city from auctioning off more than one hundred community gardens.

The third Reclaim the Streets took place during an international day of protest against the G8 conference in Cologne, Germany. Friday, June 18, 1999, at 3 p.m. at Liberty Plaza.

RTS traffic sign.Reclaim the Streets is happening all over the world, in Amsterdam, London, Toronto, Prague, Melbourne, and Madrid. From Ankara to Zurich, and now in New York.

Mayor Giuliani’s homogenizing (and boring!) “Quality of Life” campaign is fast privatizing scarce public space, squeezing our diverse communities and stealing our freedom to express ourselves. The campaign is targeted at working poor, community gardeners, immigrants, people of color, gays, young people, bicyclists, skaters, booksellers, artists, sex workers, students, homeless people, and political activists of all kinds. If Giuliani is successful, his vision of a whitewashed, Disneyfied New York of the future will replace the diverse, exuberant, exciting city of the present.

We can fight back by making ourselves visible, by refusing to be swept under the carpet, by coming out together and declaring that a diverse group of New Yorkers exist, that we have a right to exist, and have a right to public space.

Take to the streets! After all, if we can’t dance, it’s not a revolution.

Reclaim the StreetsReclaim the Streets Make Them Gardens

Reclaim the Streets

Reclaim the Streets

From the London Reclaim the Streets site:

The street is an extremely important symbol because your whole enculturation experience is geared around keeping you off the street. Inevitably you will find yourself on the curbstone of indifference, wondering “should I play it safe and stay on the sidewalks, or should I go into the street?” And it is the ones who are taking the most risks that will ultimately effect the change in society.