Dos Blockos

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Dos Blockos was a squat situated on East 9th Street in Manhattan, New York City.[1] In active use as a squat from 1992–1999, the six-story building housed as many as 60 people at its peak.[2] The building was evicted in 1999 and converted into a commercial apartment building.[3]

History[edit]

In 1992 when the building was first occupied by the Dos Blockos squatters, it had been vacant for twelve years and was stripped of wires and pipes. The squatters renovated the derelict building themselves, installing their own plumbing, electrical wiring, and roof.[4] The venture was funded in part by making the space available at intervals for concerts and short-term commercial ventures, such as its use as a photo shoot location for the 1996 film Trainspotting. One former resident cites the production's $500 a day rental fee as underwriting the cost of putting plumbing in the building.[5]

Among the building's former residents was the late documentary filmmaker and Indymedia New York City journalist Brad Will.[6] Will spoke about the struggles of Lower East Side squatters in "ABC Survives, Fifth Street Buried Alive," a 1997 program produced by Paper Tiger Television:

We were making a home out of a crumbling building [Fifth Street Squat]. The interior of the building needed help, and we brought that building back to life. It was standing strong. And the only reason it was standing was because people were living in it. If we had let it go the way the city wanted it to go—they tore out the stairwell, they punched holes in the roof. The water—the rain was rotting that building from the inside out. We replaced the joists. We rebuilt the floors. We sheetrocked the walls and made the building alive. What did they do? They killed it. That building is over a hundred years old. It was standing strong.[7]

Legal Struggle[edit]

The property on East 9th Street, which had long been in foreclosure, was purchased in 1997 by private developer East Nine L.L.C., for $285,000.[8] The developers quickly began eviction proceedings against the Dos Blockos squatters, who had by then occupied the building for five years.

After years of legal struggles, the Dos Blockos squatters were alerted in early March 1999 by East Nine L.L.C. that they would have to vacate the building by April 1 of that year. Colleen McGuire, the lawyer who represented members of Dos Blockos from 1994–98, fought the action and told the New York Times, "They [Dos Blockos] made viable housing for homeless people and they should be rewarded."[9]

Eviction[edit]

The eviction of Dos Blockos took place on April 27, 1999, the squatters' nonviolent resistance clashing against more than one hundred New York City police officers[10] in riot gear as a police helicopter circled overhead.[11] Thirteen of the building's 22 residents were arrested and charged with obstruction of government administration.[12]

City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez criticized the city for the eviction, noting the hard work of the squatters to restore the building, and for the excessive legal costs and police force employed by the city for a private interest at taxpayer expense. "The only reason people took over this building is because it was abandoned 20 years ago... Now the neighborhood is a place to make millions of dollars, so landlords come."[13] "Where was the landlord 20 years ago?" Lopez asked. "Now... they're suddenly interested. The fact that the city is doing the dirty work of a private landlord is an outrage. Who's paying for all these cops?"[14]

Present day[edit]

The property on East 9th Street was reopened as commercial apartment building in early 2000 after extensive renovations under East Nine L.L.C. Only months before a squat, a 1,000-square-foot (93 m2) space in the renovated building now leased at $3,000 a month.[15] The infamous "Housing Is a Human Right" mural that once graced the building's facade[16] is now gone.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pruijt H (2003) Is the institutionalization of urban movements inevitable? A comparison of the opportunities for sustained squatting in New York City and Amsterdam in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol. 27, nr. 1 Available online
  2. ^ Moynihan, Colin "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: LOWER EAST SIDE; We'll Stay, Squatters Insist" in The New York Times April 4, 1999 Available Online
  3. ^ Leland J On Avenue C, Renewal and Regret in The New York Times August 3, 2000 Available online
  4. ^ Ciezadlo A Squatters' Rites: Taking Liberties - A Brief History of New York City's Squats in City Limits Magazine Available online Archived November 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Leland J On Avenue C, Renewal and Regret in The New York Times August 3, 2000 Available online
  6. ^ Anderson, Lincoln "Downtown anarchist/reporter killed in Mexico." in Downtown Express November 3–9, 2006 Available Online
  7. ^ Paper Tiger Television "ABC NO RIO Survives, Fifth Street Buried Alive" Tape# 269, 1997 http://www.papertiger.org/node/273[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Cooper, Michael "Police Evict Band of Squatters Barricaded in the East Village" in The New York Times April 28, 1999 Available online
  9. ^ Moynihan, Colin "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: LOWER EAST SIDE; We'll Stay, Squatters Insist" in The New York Times April 4, 1999 Available Online
  10. ^ Cooper, Michael "Police Evict Band of Squatters Barricaded in the East Village" in The New York Times April 28, 1999 Available online
  11. ^ Leland J On Avenue C, Renewal and Regret in The New York Times August 3, 2000 Available online
  12. ^ Ciezadlo A Squatters' Rites: Taking Liberties - A Brief History of New York City's Squats in City Limits Magazine Available online Archived November 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Cooper, Michael "Police Evict Band of Squatters Barricaded in the East Village" in The New York Times April 28, 1999 Available online
  14. ^ Claffey, Mike and Virginia Breen "COPS ROUT SQUATTERS IN EAST VILLAGE CLASH" in New York Daily News April 28, 1999 Available online[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Leland J On Avenue C, Renewal and Regret in The New York Times August 3, 2000 Available online
  16. ^ Moynihan, Colin "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: LOWER EAST SIDE; We'll Stay, Squatters Insist" in The New York Times April 4, 1999 Available Online

Coordinates: 40°43′29.91″N 73°58′38.02″W / 40.7249750°N 73.9772278°W / 40.7249750; -73.9772278