Nikita Presente

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we mourn our brother Nikita Price, civil rights organizer extraordinaire at Picture the Homeless. He transitioned to the ancestors on Thursday, May 21, 2020. 

As a single dad living in the NYC shelter system with his daughter Nikki, Nikita joined Picture the Homeless (PTH) as a member in 2006.  He participated in the first cohort of PTH’s organizer trainee program, and then joined the staff as the organizer of our Rental Subsidies campaign, working tirelessly to ensure housing justice for homeless families trying to access shelter. 

48266946_1590501533188562_r.jpegHe stepped into the role of civil rights organizer in 2014 just as the NYPD was escalating shelter raids on the Upper West Side.  With his usual humility, he worried about being able to do the work, but his sense of justice propelled him into city-wide leadership and Picture the Homeless entered a brilliant new phase. 

In 2015 when our office returned to East Harlem, Nikita engaged homeless folks who were largely street homeless with love.  As a leader repping PTH at Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), he co-chaired CPR’s Policy Working Group and was part of CPR’s overall steering committee leadership.  He ensured that homeless New Yorkers were helping to lead CPR as a visible part of every CPR event and campaign work – from legislation to Cop Watch, to standing with families of police killings, to helping lead protests that shut down some of the Upper West Side shelter raids & other actions challenging NYC’s anti-homeless policing. He held a special place in his heart for families whose loved ones had been killed by the NYPD.

For those of us blessed to be a part of Nikita’s extended “family,” words are not enough to describe our loss. Nikita was kind, compassionate, and 100% genuine--he had a knack for making people feel welcome, cared for, and loved. He had an unforgettable laugh and a relentless, cynical sense of humor that somehow kept you on your toes while putting you at ease. He loved jazz, he loved to cook, and he couldn’t say more than a few sentences without cursing. We loved him dearly, and his loss is felt profoundly by the entire PTH extended family and police accountability movement.

Nikita possessed a humanity that is rare even in our movements. He could forgive those whom society deemed unforgivable. He could love those whom society cast aside. He believed everyone had a shot at redemption and above all, he believed everyone deserves a decent place to live without fear of state violence. Perhaps this is why people implicitly understood that they could trust Nikita, and why, every day, a steady stream of PTH members came to him for advice, comfort, referrals, and support.

Nikita’s nonjudgmental compassion for other human beings enabled him to successfully assist dozens of people to secure stable housing, enter rehab, or otherwise stabilize their lives. He was relentless in cutting through red tape and bureaucracy to get results for Picture the Homeless members--he simply would not give up until people got what they needed. He embodied the Picture the Homeless mission statement and made sure the mission drove the work.

Nikita practically raised his two youngest daughters in the PTH office and brought them to every protest, celebration, or action that he could. He would have done anything for them, and many of us were only too happy to babysit to give him a few hours’ rest. They are bright, kind, open-hearted, and brave. Their survival gives us hope and let’s support Noni, Naima and Nikki as they now have to live in this world without their beloved dad.

We will remember him through jazz, through his tacky jokes, through his loving and constant use of the word “family,” through his messy desk, and through the struggle. He never stopped fighting and in his memory, neither will we.

If you are able to help us honor Nikita by contributing to this fund to help cover expenses for arrangements and also so we can collectively try to ease some of this period for Noni, Naima and Nikki we would appreciate it.  All funds raised will go directly to Nikki– hopefully with all of our collective movement love pitching in.

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Donations

  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 2 d
  • Matilda Wysocki 
    • $300 
    • 5 d
  • Luke Nephew 
    • $40 
    • 6 d
  • Kim Savarino 
    • $20 
    • 7 d
  • John C Gentry 
    • $17 
    • 7 d
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Nikita Presente 
Organizer
New York, NY
Ellen Vaz 
Beneficiary
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