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The Garbage Offensives

Sanitation Depot - 99th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue

After surveying the community about the most pressing issues in the neighborhood, the first public campaign of the Young Lords became the Garbage Offensive (1969). Trash was left to fester in East Harlem and other poor communities of color throughout the city. In protest of poor sanitation services, the Young Lords confronted the local NYC Sanitation Depot (across the street), demanding brooms to clean the streets.


They took the brooms to 111th street and 3rd Avenue, and swept the garbage into the middle of the street, forming a barricade that halted traffic. To prevent motorists from removing the garbage cans, they set the barricade on fire, forcing the police and fire department to intervene. They mobilized the press to document the offensive and effectively shamed the city into providing better sanitation services. At the end of the offensive, they returned the brooms to the Sanitation Depot.

The Garbage Offensives (1&2), 1969, by Hiram Maristany.

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