Squatters museum opens with chain-cutting celebration

Photos by Lincoln Anderson

Fly Orr held up the bolt cutters before passing them to City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who clipped the chain, which was made of duct-tape links.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |   After having to postpone its opening for a month due to flood damage from Superstorm Sandy, the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, at Avenue C near 10th Ave., held its grand opening last Saturday.

“Usually, we’re chaining ourselves up,” Mendez quipped, referring to how squatters and community gardeners have fought evictions over the years by chaining themselves down, forcing police to cut them free before arresting them.

Next to Mendez in the photo are Laurie Mittelmann and Bill Di Paola, the museum’s co-directors, and cycling activist and videographer Chris Ryan.

Radical cartoonist Seth Tobocman, at rear, gave a slideshow and reading of a chapter from his classic graphic novel, “War in the Neighborhood,” accompanied by live music. The novel covers many of the East Village squatters’ struggles. The speakers’ talks and events at the opening were actually held in the basement performance space of C-Squat, which connects to the MoRUS basement space.


Top, performance artist Angel Eyedealism called MoRUS “really cool.”


The Shadow’s Chris Flash caught up with legendary Lower East Side gardener Adam Purple. During his remarks, Purple, 81, blasted former Councilmembers Miriam Friedlander and Margarita Lopez as “psycho-boobies” for supporting the destruction of his famous Garden of Eden so that low-income housing could be built on the site. Purple also even included Mendez in this bunch, though she wasn’t really on the East Village scene at that time, but rather was active in Williamsburg, where she grew up.

Artist Mac McGill gave a slideshow of his drawings of the saga of the East Village squats, accompanied by an all-star live band of former squatters, including Matt Metzgar, Steve Wishnia, Breeze and On Davis.

Legendary musician, artist and rabble-rouser, Peter Missing flew in from Copenhagen for a U.S. tour and also to visit MoRUS, where he got the crowd going with his techno-rave stylings. “Occupy! Occupy!” he sang, concluding his set by chanting, “Surround the White House! Surround the White House!”

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