Harry Wieder Honored on Lower East Side

It’s a rare New York street that’s named for an activist as radical as Harry Wieder, killed by a car in April 2010 crossing the Lower East Side street after a meeting of the community board on which he served. His dedication to LGBT and disability rights, ACT UP, and neighborhood activism was honored by the co-naming of a stretch of Forsyth Street at Rivington “Harry Wieder Way” on May 6, an honor sponsored by City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin.

State Senator Tom Duane had Wieder as his driver during his 1989 and ’91 runs for City Council, and said, “He always would ask for a kiss.” Council Speaker Christine Quinn recalled Wieder’s tenacity, “standing right in front of you until he got what he wanted.” Disability rights activist Marvin Wasserman said of his very short-statured friend, “He was so much larger than life.”

When it was time to pull the covering off the new street sign, only two letters (ha!) appeared before the cord broke. Wieder’s comrade Mike Schweinsburg, a vice president of the 504 Democrats, who focus on disability rights, clambered 20 feet up the pole and managed to tear off the cover, proclaiming Wieder’s place in city history for all time.

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