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The message — in posters and spoken word — from Anarchy Row

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The leader of an East Village homeless encampment has done his own spin on the Israeli “KIDNAPPED” posters.

Dubbed Anarchy Row, the East Village encampment is currently located beneath a scaffolding at the northeast corner of Ninth Street and First Avenue, outside Performance Space New York. Johnny Grima, an outspoken member of the group, recently posted his own version of the Israeli hostages posters on the venue’s fence and on a traffic control box on the corner.

(Photo by The Village Sun)

One of the fliers, with the headline “KIDNAPPED,” refers to more than 88,000 rent-regulated apartments that landlords are currently keeping vacant and off the market. There are also two versions of “WANTED” posters featuring a pair of Ninth Precinct police officers. The homeless men say the officers have unfairly harassed them, making at least one unjustified arrest.

Grima and another member of the encampment, Eduardo, said that cops from the East Village precinct recently cuffed Eduardo — but that he merely had been trying to break up a fight between two other homeless guys.

Anarchy Row was previously located at other locations around the neighborhood, including under a scaffolding outside of the old P.S. 64, the former CHARAS/El Bohio, at 605 E. Ninth St., just east of Tompkins Square Park.

Johnny Grima reads Reverend Billy’s column in The Village Sun’s print version about his taking Grima to see a show at Performance Space New York, while Eduardo, behind him, reads something on his phone. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The Village Sun recently dropped by the encampment to deliver some copies of its new November print issue. The newspaper includes a piece by Reverend Billy contrasting Anarchy Row with what the eco-preacher deems the cold, Brutalist architecture of Performance Space New York. The Earthalujah! activist’s column relates how he took Grima to see a show inside the place.

Speaking to the Sun, Grima shared that Anarchy Row has gotten some blowback at its new digs. Basically, they have been periodically pelted with a series of stuff from across the street — thrown from a building, he believes.

“It was eggs,” he said. “Then ice…onions. They stopped for a while. Then eggs again. … Maybe it’s the cops,” he quipped.

This encampment is relatively small, he noted, saying, “We’re holding it down with five people.”

The homeless activist, reclining beneath a jumbo-sized joint, said the city’s shelter system just is not a good place to be. (Photo by The Village Sun)

As he spoke, he reclined with bare feet on a cot as a steady stream of pedestrians passed by along the narrow sidewalk. Although he has a strong voice, he would occasionally pause when emergency vehicles with blaring sirens passed by, their flashing lights flickering across his face.

The encampment sports some decorative touches, including a giant marijuana joint stuck in the fence and a pair of boxing gloves propped on its finials. There’s a “Cease Fire” sign, referring to the fraught Middle East conflict triggered by the horrifying Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack and kidnappings, which the original “KIDNAPPING” signs refer to — except the E. Ninth Street sign refers to not just IDF (the Israel Defense Forces) but also NYPD.

As Eduardo read the print version of the Sun with his phone flashlight, Grima held forth about the state of the city’s homeless shelter system. The activist slammed one local place where he stayed, The Andrews, a 146-unit Safe Haven transitional-housing facility at 97 Bowery, run by Breaking Ground. He said, while there, he saw a man with no legs struggle to open a door, and that the staff should have helped him.

(Photo by The Village Sun)

In general, Grima said there are many young children and older people in the shelter system and that much more needs to be done to help them.

Asked if he feels more permanently affordable housing should be created for people like him, he said — echoing his own “KIDNAPPED” poster — that vacant units that could be used for that purpose already exist.


  1. John Penley John Penley November 20, 2023

    Where is MORUS , Former Squatters , Housing Activists , Homeless Activists , Bill Weinberg [Morus Employee] Mac Mcgill [ Squatter Artist ] , Bill DiPaola , Frank Morales who does squatting workshops at MORUS , East Village religious leaders and politicians and more. All the people who showed up at City Hall for Charas , The former Squatter Eviction Watch members and all those Anarchists who go to La Plaza “Anarchist ” Book Fairs and Bill Cashman’s C Squat Art Shows ? I could go on but these so called Activists should be ashamed of themselves for letting these Heroes alone on the street without help or backup . At least Lincoln Anderson and The Village Sun cared enough about them to cover their FIGHT. You can say what you want about me I don’t care but if I was not gentrified out of Alphabet City and squatting in Arizona now I would be out there with them.

    • Bill C Bill C November 22, 2023

      Since you asked, I can tell you where I probably was : at work. Or school or my unpaid internship. I never even heard about this while it was happening but I’m told that one person from C was there at the eviction. I’ve only heard about anarchy row when it was by Charas. In the past month, my friends and I have done multiple events that have raised several thousands for charities, including $500 from the last art show at C Squat. Just because I’m not doing the exact things for the exact causes that YOU think should be done doesn’t mean that I’m not active or am not an activist. I’m definitely still busy and doing the work. And all that with very limited amounts of time because of work/school/internship. I feel a little bad that I took a moment to defend myself from your comment here because it went so far off topic from what the issue in the article is. Sorry if that is disrespectful to the story or to anyone in Anarchy Row. Because I was named, I wanted to respond. It’s sad this was used for another one of Penley’s bitter and negative attempts at diviseveness and derailment. Any chance he gets, he attacks and harasses me and our comminity. John, you’re a bully and an internet troll and it’s sad The Village Sun gives you so much air time in its reader comments. Good luck to any one at Anarchy Row with finding a comfortable home this winter. – Bill C

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