Volume 74, Number 37 | January 19 -25, 2005

Two squatters reported injured by car on Avenue A

By Lincoln Anderson

A couple of well-known squatters were reportedly hit by a driver in the East Village last Wednesday evening, injuring both and leaving one in critical condition. According to John Penley, an acquaintance of both, Michael Shenker and the artist known as Fly were crossing Avenue A when a car came barreling into them from around the corner.

Fly, who broke several teeth in the incident, was treated at Bellevue Hospital and released soon afterward, according to Penley.

Penley said Shenker was unconscious and lying on the street after the accident and was being treated in Bellevue’s intensive-care unit. For the first three of four days Shenker didn’t know where he was and was mainly sleeping, but is now talking and coherent, Penley said. “He still has a blood clot on his brain — but it hasn’t gotten any worse,” he said. “They might have to operate if it doesn’t go away.” Penley said Shenker is getting plenty of visits from neighborhood friends. “Lots of people are going up there,” he said.

Penley said the two — neighbors in a squat on E. Seventh St. between Avenues B and C that was part of the UHAB deal in which the city is allowing the squatters to assume ownership of 11 buildings — were crossing with the light when they were struck. The driver stopped, Penley said.

Detective Jaime Hernandez, Ninth Precinct community affairs officer, said the precinct doesn’t have a record of two people being hit by an auto anywhere in the precinct for the past two weeks, but that they do keep records of such traffic accidents, and would know if someone from an accident was in the Bellevue I.C.U. Hernandez said the precinct tracks traffic accidents as part of a citywide initiative to improve pedestrian safety. A Fire Department spokesperson said there was no record of an Emergency Medical Service ambulance responding to the incident. A Bellevue spokesperson did not have a record of Shenker being at the hospital. Shenker did not respond to two messages left on his cell phone and Fly did not respond by press time to a message left at her home.

Shenker, who is around 51, was an early leader of the East Village squatter movement and is a member of the No Police State Coalition, a two-year-old group that holds political speak-outs in Union Sq. A “police intelligence” photo of Shenker was among those shown on TV on a “Nightline” segment about purported “dangerous anarchists” allegedly bent on fomenting chaos at the Republican National Convention. Shenker and others whose photos were shown are considering suing over the segment.

Fly — Penley said everyone only knows her by that name — writes a monthly column for Maximum Rock ’N’ Roll magazine. “She’ll need a lot of dental work. She has to eat through a straw,” Penley noted. He said he and Clayton Patterson plan to hold a benefit to help defray any medical expenses the injured squatters may face.

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