Photography: These Post-Its Kill Fascists/Union Square Post-It Wall
New York City is an overwhelmingly liberal stronghold; not only do Democrats outnumber Republicans to the order of about 6 to 1, Hilary Clinton won my hometown 79% to 18%. And while my hometown is a tough place, there are few places in the US — hell, few in the world, really — that celebrate diversity and acceptance; that represents the messy and uncertain compromises of democracy that forces us to be better and causes us to be worse; that exposes our greed, contradictions and hypocrisies; that gives you way too many choices simultaneously and as easily as New York does. Within the first few hours after President-elect Asshole — er Trump’s Election Day victory, distraught and frightened New Yorkers and others began anonymously expressing themselves on hand-written Post-It Notes that they’d then post on the walls of the Union Square 4,5,6, L, N, Q, R, Subway station. Although the idea was originated by Matthew “Levee” Chavez as a way to provide his fellow New Yorkers and others a way to engage each other in an anonymous, small and very easy way, its location has a deeper sociopolitical meaning that shouldn’t be forgotten as the park has a long-held history as the start or the end of political demonstrations, including being the site of the first Labor Day Parade, as well as the being the headquarters of Occupy Wall Street, once the Occupy folks were pushed out of Zuccoti Park and the starting point for several marches and demonstrations against police brutality and more.
Now, I had first heard about the Union Square Station Post-It Note wall when a coworker emailed me and three other emails an article, referencing a tweet that discussed this incredible and spontaneous phenomenon of people leaving hand-written notes showing support and love for minorities, marginalized people and others who may be in danger during a Trump Administration. Strangely, while being in the station a couple of times since that mail, I somehow missed it — it’s a huge station that runs through the length and width of Union Square Park after all; however, before heading to a show at Piano’s last night, I finally found it. Unsurprisingly, he notes run the gamut — revealing strength, banality, humor, righteous fury, love, kindness, regret, crushing heartbreak, fear, confusion, hope; but most importantly, they show New Yorkers uniting in for a common cause when it matters the most.
The pictures that I’ve taken both here and on Instagram don’t properly illustrate the installation’s size — it stretches ceiling to floor, about a city block and currently is comprised of about 10,000 handwritten notes. Busy commuters, who typically rush through their day, actually stop and treat the walls with a special reverence and understanding, with many stopping to read the notes or add their own and countless others, like myself taking photos. Please check it out while it’s still up because it’s deeply moving experience — while reminding the world why people love New York so much, and why New Yorkers are the best people in the entire world. Or as I said in a response to a Instagram comment “New York may kick your ass, but when it loves you, my goodness, does it ever love you.”
Caption: “I will do everything I can to protest everyone who needs protecting. I promise.” Me, too, friend. Me too.
For these photos and a few more, check out the Flickr set here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/yankee32879/21Wsno