City threatens livelihoods of scrap metal scavengers

Apr 04, 2017


Alden Nusser graduated with the class of 2015 and published this piece in the New Yorker a short time later.

Full Story The Battle for New York City’s Trash
Outlet New Yorker
Date October 5, 2016
Discipline Video Storytelling


Stroud is a fourth-generation scrapper; he says that his great-grandfather started collecting old tractors when slavery was still legal. A century and a half later, scavenging scrap metal is still the family business. But, in 2007, the city made it illegal for anyone other than the Sanitation Department to pick up curbside recyclables with a car, threatening Stroud’s livelihood and his family’s entrepreneurial tradition. In response, Stroud and his father, who passed away in 2012, sought to reverse the legislation by mobilizing fellow-scrappers to unite and lobby local politicians for support. The experience has opened Stroud’s eyes to another possible career path—he is now studying for the LSAT.

Screenshot from New Yorker video about a family of scrap collectors.

Two brothers drive through Brownsville each night searching for valuable scraps (Alden Nusser for the New Yorker).

Post by aldennusser

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