Defending their homes on E. 13th St.; Homeless on A | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Defending their homes on E. 13th St.; Homeless on A

Photos by Clayton Patterson

It was an early summer morning in 1996, and hundreds of police were getting ready to flood onto E. 13th St. between Avenues A and B, above, to evict squatters from several tenements. “We were welded into a building on the north side of 13th St.,” Clayton Patterson recalled of this photo’s vantage point. “Bratton showed up that day,” he said, referring to former Police Commissioner William Bratton. “He was in the huddle. He was there wearing a white, short-sleeve shirt.” To the left in the photo is Sucker’s Hole squat, which sported its own garden. “That was Parker’s building,” Patterson recalled. “Robert Parker lived there. He moved Upstate.” As for the squat Patterson was shooting from, David Boyle originally opened it. To make it harder for police to get onto the block, the squatters had turned over a car, and strewn heavy oil and debris all over the street. Although arrests were made that day, the L.E.S. documentarian and his partner, Elsa Rensaa, managed to slip away. In a scene you probably wouldn’t see today, in 1992 a homeless man slept on a pushcart during the daytime at Avenue A and Seventh St., right, as a police officer wrote up a ticket — not for the homeless guy, but for a parking violation for a car. Today, “You’d get a ticket for the pushcart — ‘Vehicle on the Sidewalk,’ ” the photographer commented.                                    —  Lincoln Anderson