The advocate for minorities and the socially disadvantaged was 90 years old.
Last Thursday in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 90, Herb Sturz died of a heart condition. Until a few weeks ago he had lived in Manhattan and only after a domestic accident had he moved to Arizona for care, where a niece of his lives.
Fall was only known to insiders in New York, but was considered a “silent force” with an enormous influence on social policy. He grew up as the son of a bar operator who immigrated from the Austrian Empire in the port and refinery city of Bayonne, New Jersey. Socially committed early on, but marked by polio on his left arm, Sturz studied philosophy and teaching, but turned to public engagement after a successful attempt as a novelist with his wife Elizabeth Lyttleton.
Initially from 1961 to 1978 as the founding director of the Vera Institute for Justice, which to this day assists immigrants, penniless defendants and convicts (Link). The then mayor Edward Koch then brought him into his administration as “Deputy Mayor for the Judiciary”. In the mid-1980s, Sturz took over the management of the urban development institution “New York City Planning Commission”. In recent years he has advised George Soros’ “Open Society Foundation” pro bono on questions of social justice.
In over six decades, Sturz has shown immense capacity as a data collector and analyst. These efforts always served as the basis for public and / or foundation-supported initiatives for a concrete improvement of problems. These include the Manhattan Bowery Project for alcoholics. The “Project Renewal” helped homeless people to find a job, in addition to the rehabilitation program “Wildcat Service Corporation”, while the “Midtown Community Court” was an alternative to criminal justice for minor offenses, and the “City Volunteer Corps” was active as a mediator for volunteers were. This found imitators across the country, as did «Easyride» as a transport agency for the elderly and the sick.
In all of these activities and initiatives, Sturz always convinced with facts and practical ideas. His business was patient argumentation towards decision-makers in politics and administration outside the media. In an obituary, the “New York Times” acknowledges the fall as the driving force behind the abolition of the controversial police practice “Stop and Frisk”, in which the police often subjected mostly completely innocent African-Americans or Latinos to brutal personal checks. But his name is seldom found in countless articles about this practice. Sturz only found appropriate appreciation in 2009 in the book “A Kind of Genius: Herb Sturz and Society’s Toughest Problems” by Times reporter Sam Roberts (Link).