Narratively, “The Undercover Anarchists’ Secret Construction Collective”

In a sleepy corner of Connecticut, a radical band of leftists are sneaking out after dark to tackle the homelessness crisis that has spread to every corner of America.

By Ella Fassler, September 9, 2021

It was 1 o’clock in the morning on a Friday in early June, and Hayward Gatch was trespassing in what used to be a neighborhood, before it was razed to the ground by the government. Gatch kept a swivel head, with his hair tied back, as he crept through a towering sea of mugwort, wielding wooden pallets and a circular saw. All the while, he wore a black shirt with a mischievous raccoon sandwiched between the words “trashy & trouble.” Staff at the adjacent Coast Guard Research & Development Center and any local police who might be on patrol were oblivious to his presence.

Gatch, a wanderer turned graphic designer turned freelance carpenter, had prepared carefully for this outing. Off site, he’d spent the day preassembling what was to become a new home for his unhoused friend. He’d bolted together several wooden pallets for the walls, covered them with plywood, carved out a door and installed a window. Then, much like disassembling a puzzle, he extricated the parts and loaded it all up in the back of his truck for reassembly later.

Moths fluttered out of the cargo bed as Gatch took off for the highway. After a 30-minute drive, he pulled into what can best be described as someplace on the fringes. Gatch backed up his truck near the mugwort lot and scoped the area. The coasts were clear for unloading materials. This was the most sensitive part of the operation, or so I was told after absent-mindedly turning on a flashlight and promptly being asked to please turn it off. As a journalist who only wanted to be a fly on the wall, I quickly complied: My mind flashed to a scene of us being cuffed by police.

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