For years, Picture the Homeless's bright blue banner announced us to the world. Our friends and allies saw it coming and cheered. Our targets saw it and trembled in their boots. From tame press conferences to takeovers of private property that resulted in multiple arrests, our banner was our emblem and our coat of arms. In 2011 alone it was unfurled over the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal, the ‘Million Dollar Staircase’ during the Occupation of the Albany Capitol Building, and hundreds of marches and protests organized by us and by our comrades in the movement.
“I’ve been at PTH almost eight years. I really loved those banners!” – Sam J. Miller, Lead Organizer at Picture the Homeless.
In addition to our signature sky-blue banner, we also had one specifically for our Civil Rights Disorderly Conduct Campaign. Designed and hand-painted by acclaimed activist-artist Seth Tobocman, our “Hands off the Homeless” banner summarized the central issue of the campaign, that police target homeless people with the overly broad and vaguely-defined ‘disorderly conduct’ statute, bracketed by illustrations of a police officer with baton raised on the left and an officer being handcuffed on the right. The third banner, also hand-painted, proclaimed one of our rallying cries, “They Say Gentrify, We Say Unify” over an image of a sun rising on a city skyline.
But all three banners were destroyed during the NYPD's illegal, military-style eviction of Zuccotti Park. They went in a dumpster along with our tent, the personal effects of our members, and the property of hundreds of other Wall Street Occupiers. Even after many visits to the Sanitation Department garage where the cops dumped the remnants of the camp, we've never found a trace of it.
Our banners held tremendous sentimental and organizational value. They also weren’t cheap. We want a Kickstarter to pay for the costs of replacing the banners; meaning a quality, professionally made vinyl replacement, as well as covering material costs and compensating the artists who help us re-make our hand-painted ones.
Picture the Homeless is a member-led organization of homeless people fighting for justice. We challenge police violations of our rights, and fight for housing policies that make sure everyone has the right to a place to live. We’re not service providers or a charity; we use a diversity of tactics, from meeting with legislators to direct action and civil disobedience, to make our voices heard. We've been proud participants in Occupy Wall Street from the beginning, because no one knows better than homeless people what's wrong with income inequality and the oppression of the 99%.
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