image description
Susan Birns, co-chair of the Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force's planning committee, re-installs posters at Park Square on Thursday.
image description
Some of the posters were re-installed across the street for some reason.

Mystery Group Removes Anti-Harassment Posters From Park Square

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

The posters were found across the street, some piled up by the church, some stuck back into the ground.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A strange act of vandalism occurred on Tuesday around noon when the Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force's art installation in Park Square that calls attention to street harassment was taken down and moved.

It is not clear whether this was a prank or an act of harassment.

"Somebody thought it would be amusing to take down all our signs and move them across the street and put them on the church and the bank lawns," planning committee co-chair Susan Birns said, who went immediately to the scene when notified by a task force member around 4 on Tuesday.

"I was really upset because I thought it was a hate crime. I mean, every one of those signs had a woman on it, and almost all of them were women of color and I didn't like it and I wasn't entertained."

All 30 signs that depict illustrations from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s book "Stop Telling Women to Smile: Stories of Street Harassment and How We're Taking Back Our Power" were removed from Park Square and put into piles on lawns with about 10 of them being displayed upright.

The display is one part of the "One Book, One Community" event that also includes a communitywide read of Fazlalizadeh’s book and a public webinar.

The signs were not damaged or vandalized. They are a monthlong installation for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and have a very serious meaning. They have been on display for a couple of weeks.

Birns called the Pittsfield Police and found out that an officer noticed a group of people taking down the signs on their lunch break but was not aware that it was an unaffiliated party or an act of vandalism.

She clarified that she did her due diligence before becoming upset about the relocated installation by contacting the highway superintendent to confirm that the city had not taken them down.

She also contacted the neighboring churches — St. Stephen’s Parish and the First Church of Christ —that also confirmed that they too had nothing to do with it.

Through the lens of a prank, Birns said she could find humor in the situation as long as it doesn’t happen again, but a hate crime, she said, is obviously just unacceptable.

The signs were replaced in their intended area on Thursday.

"I don't know why it happened. It's unfortunate," Birns said. "I would say it's a story with a happy ending because these things are going to be up through April and it's important that nobody messes with them.  My point of the campaign is against street harassment and moving them around is a way of harassment."

Residents are encouraged to contact the Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force with information on this incident. As of now, it is a bizarre mystery.

5 Comments welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to

Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Eyes Strategic Plan, Reflects on 'Rough Year'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Downtown Pittsfield Inc. is emerging from the pandemic year with the intention of developing a strategic plan process that includes all of its members and stakeholders. 
The goal will be to think about how Pittsfield can be a thriving place to live, work, and play for all members of broader communities.
President Branden Huldeen explained that he sees three ways that everyone can move forward together: innovation, collaboration, and the very important work in equity, diversity, inclusion, and access.
"I want to recognize it, it's been a rough year. And rough is probably the kindest word I could probably use for right now. But I'm proud of the number of businesses that have been able to push through so far," Huldeen said at Thursday's annual meeting.
View Full Story

More Pittsfield Stories