We unfortunately have some sad news to report this morning. Well-known community activist Harry Wieder was killed last night, after a taxi struck him as he was leaving CB3’s monthly meeting at P.S. 20. Wieder had been trying to cross Essex Street when the accident happened. Emergency crews arrived on the scene almost immediately and transported Wieder to Bellevue Hospital, but attempts to resuscitate him failed.
Wieder was a longtime member of Community Board 3, as well as an activist for gay rights and the rights of the disabled. In an email message, CB3 Chair Dominic Pisciotta said, “I will miss Harry terribly. He contributed so much to the Board and you could always count on him being at nearly every meeting. He loved serving the community and most of all fighting for it.”
Community board members rushed into the street moments after the accident, and several of them went to Bellevue to be by Wieder’s side. I was standing outside P.S. 20 last night when the accident occurred, but had my back to the street. A witness who saw what happened out of the corner of his eye said it looked like Wieder had been standing between two cars and then had stepped out into the street, apparently not seeing the cab. He said the taxi driver tried to swerve to miss him, but could not stop in time.
On Wieder’s Facebook Page, he described himself as a: “Disabled, gay, Jewish, leftist, middle aged dwarf who ambulates with crutches…” He was a true Lower East Side personality who definitely made his mark. In Betty Adelsen’s 2005 book, “The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity Toward Social Liberation,” she wrote of Wieder:
He has gained both fame and notoriety. In 1993 New York Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote a Runyonesque article about Wieder, inventing some details, but capturing his combative, roguish nature and his penchant for truth.”
You can read a longer excerpt from the book here. Funeral and memorial plans are still pending – we’ll let you know when we have that information. CB3 has canceled tonight’s scheduled meeting of the waterfront subcommittee.
Wieder was 57.