Speaking Up

June 12, 2020

I would talk about when I spoke up. I have never shut up. Seriously. First, my parents fled Europe, and they said to me, if you don’t speak up, we’re gonna have another Hitler. So I have been speaking up for a long time.

I lived in a neighborhood where they would gentrifying it, in Chelsea. And they came over to the door, one day. I had very small children, I think, three of them at that time. They said to me, “You have to move now!”

And I said, “Well, then give me a place to live!”

They said, “No, no. Just move.”

I got very angry and I ended up solving that problem because after making a tremendous amount of noise, I went to city investigation and told them that had I gone through all the records in the housing court and there was no paperwork regarding this eviction. The person at city investigation got on the phone and said to the man, if you ever show up at her apartment again, we’re going to have you arrested. So I started to feel very powerful.

And then I got a job as a community organizer organizing tenants. So one of things I did…so, U-Haul had a company in the West 40’s and when people returned the trucks, they put the key under the seat. And these 10 year old kids would then get into the truck and drive them around the neighborhood! So, one of the newspapers like Chelsea Now or whatever local paper, they called me up and I was explaining the whole thing. I was talking about a good five minutes and I didn’t hear any sound on the other end. And I said, “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

He said, “I’m writing down every word.” So the minute the article hits the paper, of course, U-Haul change their policy about leaving the key in an unlocked truck.

So I’ve been doing things like this for a long time, and lately I haven’t succeeded at all, but I keep trying. Lately, I keep complaining about the bicycles. I can’t drop it because bicycles are out there every single day. And now, the bikes are, because I’m wearing a mask and my glasses get steamed up, it’s much harder to see somebody coming down the road in the wrong direction. And so I’ve been calling public officials and saying, “Listen, you’re telling the police, what not to do. So why don’t you tell them what to do!”

And I hear somebody take a deep breath and say, well, “What do you want them to do?” And I said I want them to enforce the traffic laws. So that’s the last thing I’ve been fighting about and it’s harder these days to get… I think we all have too much with email and everything else. I think it’s harder in a lot of ways to get through to people. The interesting part was that a lot of the action took place after the last protests in the 60s. And now, a lot of things are changing, and I just hope that they change permanently because they changed for a while.