Love is a Souvenir

In collaboration with the Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center

Love is a Souvenir is a public intervention designed to engage the debate surrounding the New York Police Department’s “Stop & Frisk” policies.

Recognizing the role of street vendors as NY’s frontline cultural ambassadors, more than 100 souvenir vendors in a concentrated zone of tourism were asked to participate in this project by hanging a protest sign, in the form of a t-shirt, alongside their wares (i.e., I love NY shirts, Statue of Liberty hats, NYPD branded items, etc).

The main geographic focus of this project was Battery Park - near the landing for ferries carrying tourists to the Statue of Liberty. Most New Yorkers walk past souvenir stands without notice, but for tourists journeying to and from the Statue of Liberty, the vendors are well within their sights. Many of the vendors in this particular area are African-American veterans who work everyday selling items that promote NY’s public image as a place characterized by love, liberty, and respect. However, they say that they go home at night to communities where friends and family members have been subject to aggressive police treatment.

"Stop & Frisk" is no longer a subject of conversation limited to activists, lawyers, and the innocent victims of police harassment. It’s increasingly impacting all aspects of civil society. In an attempt to push the current debate into broader discursive territory, Love is a Souvenir materializes as public policy imprinting itself upon the social and cultural fabric of the city.