Thursday, August 17, 2017

[Updated] Report: Anger over Confederate flags on 8th Street and Avenue D

Several flags drape the windows of an apartment on the top floor of a building on Eighth Street and Avenue D.

There are two Confederate flags, several Israeli flags and what appears to be an American flag with 13 stars...

The Post reports that the flags have been hanging in the windows for several months. (Updated: The Daily News says that the flags have been there for a year.) However, after the weekend's deadly violence that erupted at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., people are now taking notice of these flags.

According to the Post, people threw "rocks and bricks" at the windows yesterday.

“They’re scary, we don’t know who we are dealing with in the neighborhood. I feel uncomfortable because that represents evil. I see the protests in the news and I come home and see this,” said local Louise Abddhal, 56, as a chorus of others yelled at the window.

Residents had turned a blind eye to the offensive banners in the past, but started getting mad after Saturday’s rally in Charlottesville ...

“It’s been there forever and no one said anything. Now it’s going crazy. Virginia is bringing more light and attention too,” said longtime resident Janet Brown.

At night, the flags are illuminated in the windows.

Buzzfeed Senior Editor Matt Stopera tweeted this Saturday night...

Police responded to the rock tossing, though no arrests were made, the Post reported.

Updated 5:25 a.m.

The Daily News filed a story overnight about the flags. The also posted a video showing a man on the corner throwing throws at the sixth-floor windows.

Last night around 11, police had blocked off the area outside the building and were attempting to speak with the tenant. (The Post reported that the leasing agent had reached out to the tenant as well.)

"We don’t want a riot here," Michael Schweinsburg, the Eight B C D Block Association president, told the News.

Schweinsberg said he hoped that the cops can convince the tenant to take down the flags — for the sake of the neighborhood.

“The cops went up there, there was absolutely no response to repeated knocks on the door,” he added. “So the idea now is that they’re going to reach out to the landlord and ask for something to be hung from the roof to cover it up. That way hopefully he will communicate.”

The NYPD said that they will keep a patrol car on the scene "to monitor the situation."

[Photo from last night at 7:30]

Updated 10:30 a.m.

The Daily Beast has more details, including that the tenant has lived in the building for 12 years.

The flags, according to several neighbors who know their owner, might be as much a product of mental illness as they are of racism.

The apartment building’s superintendent Ruben Vargas told The Daily Beast that the flags have been up for five months.

Until then, the tenant had been a building nuisance. Two neighbors were scared of him, Vargas said, and a third had moved out “because he goes off on a rampage inside the apartment throwing things around.” Multiple people described the tenant as mentally ill.

“Some days he’s talking to you, then you see him again and he’s out cursing and saying racist words. ‘Heil Hitler,’ all these things,” Vargas said.

Updated 11:30 a.m.

Here's a statement from City Councilmember Rosie Mendez...

Recently, I was made aware that confederate flags were hung in the windows of an apartment building in my district. It saddens me that a symbol of hate and oppression would be displayed in my district — a multi-ethnic district that is comprised of and embraces its racial and economic diversity. More troubling is that these flags remain in display after the tragic and fatal events that occurred in Charlottesville this weekend.

I am concerned as I am hearing that local community residents are upset by the display and are taking some matters into their own hands. There have been reports made to my office of counter actions taking place at the residence that are alarming and illegal. You can voice your displeasure, but you cannot throw objects at the windows, to the building or block anyone’s entrance or exit to the building.

While this display may be offensive to many of us, please know that each and every one of us has rights and protections under the United States Constitution. We all have a First Amendment Right to Free Speech. Displaying a flag, in and of itself, is not illegal and there are no legal actions that can be taken to have this individual remove the flags from his/her windows.

However, there are limitations to our First Amendment Right to Free Speech and if this individual steps outside of those limitations, then local law enforcement can take the next necessary steps.

I want to remind everyone that this is a multiple dwelling building. Many other individuals, families with children, live in this building and are probably equally offended by the display. I ask that you please respect and support your neighbors who reside in this building and who unfortunately live next to this individual.

While I do not know nor do I have any contact with this individual, I respectfully request for everyone’s safety that s/he take down this flag — a symbol that is so offensive to the surrounding community.

To my neighbors, I hope you continue to exercise your First Amendment Right as we traditionally do in this community, but we must do it within the letter of the law. Please do not exceed or violate what is permitted expressions of free speech.

Lastly, my staff and I have been in contact with the local precinct and we have been informed that the situation is being monitored.

Updated 8:30 p.m.

Earlier this evening, 12 to 15 people were gathered on the southwest corner. Some of them had signs with them that read "End Racism," and other messages. No one was actively holding them up at this time. There was one police vehicle parked on Avenue D. There weren't any news crews at this time, though there were two photographers on the corner.

The Daily News filed a second story earlier today that names the resident.

Updated 8/18

Workers have dropped a tarp over the windows. Read that story here.

Updated 8/19

The flags have been removed.


JQ LLC said...

Why the Israel flags? Is it to acknowledge or a homage to the veritable apartheid system there?

People better be careful with that tenant, he could lawyer up and claim freedom of expression. Which will mean more money the ACLU has to waste to defend agitators like that jerk for the rights of all.

The thing is about this new galvanized racial crisis, no thanks to Figurehead Trump, is that it's diverting attention away from the issue of government sanctioned gentrification, which is actually more dangerous, to race and class, than a minority of stupid imbeciles arcane bigoted beliefs.

Scuba Diva said...

JQ LLC said:

People better be careful with that tenant, he could lawyer up and claim freedom of expression.

No, this is not about "freedom of expression," and this cartoon explains why:

Giovanni said...

According to one news report, this guy also once had a Nazi flag in his window, and has yelled the N-word out the window. Talk about living in the wrong neighborhood. How can anyone support flying Confederate and Nazi flags when those were the two movements that declared war on us and tried to destroy this country? Had they won, most of us wouldn't even be here today because many if not all our ancestors would've been killed. Do these morons not even understand that simple concept? Even if you can set aside all the racist and white supremacist nonsense that both of these flags embody, how does anyone support these toxic ideologies that wanted to wipe us all out? Donald Trump's own father was arrested for marching in a Klan rally in Queens in the 1920s. I guess that's why President WTF supports white nationalists too. Jared and Ivanka must be making a whole lot of money putting up with that anti-semitic Nazi hugger. Even their own rabbi is criticizing the President. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Anonymous said...

Attacking figureheads, icons, symbols and monuments of things you dislike, disagree with and are offended by, is a slippery slope to slide down. Will we start to make descendants of confederate leaders wear armbands with the dixie flag on it to identify them? There is a fine line hear between isolation and persecution. We should ask our government why it allows symbols of hate to be displayed under the 1st Amendment. There should be no ambiguity. Laws should be passed to make the display of certain hateful symbols a federal crime punishable by large fines and short prison terms. So who will step up to say which symbols are okay and which are not....and there you have the real problem. At what point do we become just like those we stand against? Just because you have the right to do something, doesn't make it right to do. We would all be better off if we followed in the path of Mahatma Gandhi.

Stop the Hate said...

@11AM That is pure, unadulterated gibberish. You are conflating taking down staures and flags which represent hate speech and ideologies that want to destroy the country and victimize minorities with persecuting descendants of confederate soldiers who have nothing to do with it. You can't persecute a statue. Using these symbols to inflict hate and intimidate others is immoral and wrong.

cmarrtyy said...

I don't like it but he has a right to display the flags. His rights are more important than political orthodoxy. Ask the people who come from repressed societies.

Anonymous said...

One of the strongest argument racists (and now DT) use is these monuments represent duty and sacrifices made by their ancestors and it is part of history. To remove them is to deny history. The fault with that statement is nobody is asking to rewrite history, in fact we do not want what to forget the injustice and suffering enslaved people endure at some of their ancestors hands. Nor will we tolerate these monuments being normalized by their positioning on public land and in front of state houses, city halls and other institutions which are here to serve all Americans with equal measure. Local, state nor federal government should not endorse figures who colluded to take down our country 150 years ago.

As for this individual, it is interesting to discover he most likely is suffering from mental illness. The appearance of the flags I suspect is related to the timing of DT's takeover of the presidency. Stop throwing rocks, that is barbaric but instead encourage the city to have someone trained in mental health to visit this man and find out how to help him.

Anonymous said...

Can we get his name and more information? The landlord might be able to take another approach to get him out. If this guy is scaring the other tenants, that should be enough right there. These flags are a sign of his bullying and trying to incite fear.

Good luck to the people who live in this building. I am sorry you have to deal with this racist bully.

Anonymous said...

schizophrenia...hell of a disease

Anonymous said...

The Israeli flags are anti-Arab and there are a lot of Muslims living on this block.

The landlord cannot block this person's windows, that would be illegal.

A neighbor could call adult protective services to see if they can help him.

Anonymous said...

He who controls the past, controls the future.

I don't recall any of the anti-fascists getting terribly upset at having a statue of a terrorist mass murderer named V.I. Lenin overlooking a community of people that he starved to death to the tune of 8 to 10 million. Oh, right, the Electric Tit didn't tell them to get upset by that, did it?

You want to attack symbols of oppression? Take a visit to Washington, DC and start with the statue of "Honest Abe" whose very hands rest on the Roman (Nazi) fasces. I'd like to see someone topple that giant phallus the Washington Monument too, preferably right into the sexist reflecting pool. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, documents that some of you folks revere like idols, and upon which all of your espousals for equality are founded, ironically were written by evil racist men, are therefore tainted and must go.

While you're all out stoning the ghost of the Stars and Bars, the Stars and Stripes continues to marauder around the globe, poisoning the planet with a giant Pentagon shaped carbon footprint. Methinks the protesteriat needs to get their priorities in order. Just kidding. Enjoy the theater, folks.

Giovanni said...

Will someone with a nice video projector please set up a video reel of Abe Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, VE Day celebrations, the fall of the Berlin Wall, pictures of smiling Muslims, Black people, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, the Gay Pride march, anti-Trump memes etc., and go project it on a building across the street from this guy's apartment?

Anonymous said...

Good sane response by Mendez.

Anonymous said...

Please note that it's been mentioned this man has previously been considered possibly mentally ill. While I find his behavior abhorrent, first attention should be paid to his mental state. Provoking him may well put others in danger, particularly other tenants.

Anonymous said...

I find it REALLY SAD that a member of our City Council is working with the police to shut down the free political expression of a citizen. Instead of harassing this citizen, Council member Mendez and the local police should be trying to prevent further harassment.

Please try to remember that freedom of speech is not just for people who agree with you !!

Unfortunately, I cannot sign this letter for fear of persecution by politicians and the police.

Anonymous said...

I guess those without sin have already thrown the first stones.

sophocles said...

I don't think the cartoon explains why we have to suppress the Nazi flag, the Confederate flag, the Israeli flag, the Star of David, Jesus on the Cross, or any other symbol that might offend someone. Let people be offended. That's better than arresting people for giving the Nazi salute, as they do in Germany. This is a slippery slope that is really slippery...

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, there is subtle racism from Cornerstone Café a few blocks away... I've seen this story going viral on facebook in the past few hours. There seems to be a trend going on in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of every racist being defended because he is mentally ill. This guy is with it enough to provoke people with the Confederate flag. He is sending clear signals, and it is unacceptable. How do you explain this to the kids in the neighborhood? I hope his landlord can get him out either for this or for being a menace to his neighbors. No one should have to live in fear of a neighbor.

Anonymous said...

Donald Trump is mentally ill too, but that doesn't cancel out my right to protest against his abhorrent behavior.

Anonymous said...

There was an ABC News truck outside the building today and a bunch of photographers trying to get a photo of this guy. There were a dozen people standing across the street staring up at his ridiculous windows. He wanted attention. and now he's got it.

Anonymous said...

@Scuba Diva

I disagree with that cartoon. All speech is inciting something by that standard. You have to be actively inciting violence in the very immediate sense which is not protected speech for the same reason conspiracy to commit murder is not free speech. Free speech is not diplomatic immunity for your vocal chords is the point being made with incitement exceptions. However, freedom of opinion is most certainly something that must be protected and the number one enemy of that freedom is well-intentioned people taking a stand against a bad thing and using authoritarianism to combat it.

Whereas fascism is traditionally right leaning authoritarianism, make no mistake that the issues I have with fascism are the same as what I have with all authoritarian beliefs (including left-leaning ones) which is that they are fundamentally illiberal in nature. Your comic calls for an illiberal society opposed to nazism. It falsely claims to represent a free society. Being opposed to nazism can make you a proponent of a free society but what you call for is akin to a society having a never-ending war on terror in the name of not letting the terrorists win. By having that war you already lost.

That being said, I believe the landlord should be free to evict this man or cover up his windows externally (eviction is probably out of the question in this city). I don't think this guy has the right to use his rented apartment windows as a platform, he currently is exploiting the privilege versus exercising the right. Hopefully they can figure out some way to solve it.

I think that it is fair to argue that within a community, that community should be allowed to decide the good taste nature of the buildings and neighborhood to a degree that might in someway impinge on potential free speech platforms, for the good of social cohesion. Not because I think so much "bad speech needs to banned" but more within the same realm as people making sure someone keeps their lawn up or doesn't paint their house ugly colors. Those are acceptable tradeoffs to making sure community cohesion is positive due to the fact that it is a privilege to live in a community and you can always find a different community or live in a forest or whatever if you aren't a right fit.

Governance at the lowest level up, combined with one's inalienable rights being protected against tyranny of the majority is the ideal balancing act in my opinion. If you elect to live in a society than there will always be some social(ist) principles that must be traded off on but they should never be handled at such a high level that you could end up a political prisoner. That's where this kind of thing becomes scary and dangerous. As someone who takes a more right-leaning classically liberal view on speech, I recognize the need to dictate good taste on a community level in a way which basically doesn't allow someone to grandstand within in a community in a way the community doesn't like (as long as the community is of course not violating base-line human rights that are granted by nature).

Anonymous said...

I understand if his neighbors don't want to release his name, but I am curious about his age and what kind of work he does and what he is like. Does this guy go to work every day? Is he in a relationship? I am trying to imagine what he is like.

Kelly said...

I live around the corner and currently there is a pix11 and abc news van hanging about just waiting for something to happen. Overheard on the street that something may happen on Saturday with support for this ahole coming to stand with him. Pray it's just a rumor.

Giovanni said...

@kelly. You may be right. The alt-right March on Google which were scheduled for Saturday, and which included a stop in Washington Square, Park, have been canceled due to the backlash from the attacks in Charlottesville. But I wouldn't be surprised if a few strays showed up here to "salute" their new comrade. So if anyone sees any strays wandering around The neighborhood this weekend, call the ASPCA right away.

Anonymous said...

I am appalled that in an area which used to be a bastion of freedom people use a comic to justify the squashing of free speech. Sorry but this person has a right to be an asshole. All this media attention is exactly the wrong response. How many new visits do you think the Daily Stormer has gotten since they have been declared an enemy of the state (or the "powers that be" anyway)? As reprehensible as what these folks say is, they stop way before direct calls for violence. I am afraid that this is not true of the "anti-fa" movement. Want to stop the handful of racist dingbats? Let them talk and express themselves. In a free marketplace of ideas I'm confident they will go bankrupt. And if they cross the line into violence or direct threats of violence, lock them up. But that rule applies to the current stone throwers too.

Anonymous said...

If I'm legally bound to watch someone exercise their right to burn an American flag, then the same goes for this guy and his windows.

There, I said it without five paragraphs and lots of big words I probably don't understand anyway.

Anonymous said...

Covered with a tarp this afternoon about 1:15. Crazy red headed bearded-guy running around accusing passerbys of putting up the flags and threatening with violence

Anonymous said...

I always get a funny feeling when I pass that giant statue of Teddy Roosevelt outside the Natural History Museum. Doesn't anyone remember what he did in the Philippines? The racist remarks he made about our "little brown brothers"? So how can they allow that monument to racism stand?

And Giovanni, Lincoln's views on the inferiority of certain races not his own are well known; Gandhi was actually against gun control; and Martin Luther King, Jr was a notorious philanderer and womanizer (i.e. misogynist), so he's hardly an appropriate icon for the new America. Clinton make some pretty reprehensible remarks about blacks too which she's never apologized for and Bernie allowed his own party to betray him and didn't say a word about; if the DNC and the media hadn't colluded against him Trump wouldn't be president. So there's two more heroes down. We aint got much left.

JQ LLC said...

. "In a free marketplace of ideas I'm confident they will go bankrupt'

Look no further than what has happened to the president since he expounded his both sides theory. He is being trashed very lovely by the media, the press has found it's balls suddenly and all the national corporate CEO's bailed out on his economic forum.

Let the dummy have his flags. Besides, he doesn't have the balls to defend his display and stand by his convictions. Especially after that guy threw rocks at it.

He's just a antagonizing miscreant, as are those idiots who marched in Charlottesville
yelling blood and soil.

Anonymous said...

Take Your Meds, maybe get off the meds. It'll vastly improve your reading comprehension and ability to think critically. If hating racists means hating America, fine I hate America. Guilty! If hating warmongers means hating America, fine I hate America. Got me again.

But I consider myself to be in good company. Remember that before Barack got the nomination, Michelle made a very powerful statement, which the Right, no surprise, twisted and contorted all out of context, viz. "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback." You hear that? For the FIRST TIME in her ADULT LIFE she finally could feel proud of America.

Honestly, I think she was being a little optimistic but I agree with the underlying sentiment. So, Take Your Meds, talk shit about me all you want but don't be talking shit about my Michelle.

Anonymous said...

I know someone that has worked for this guy and he attests that this person is not at all racist. It's really sad that any symbol can make people go on internet witch hunts like this. The slander about this person is pretty amazing, since he is purported to be a good man. Maybe the guy just likes flags. It shouldn't be a crime to decorate your apartment as you like. The harassment that he undoubtably gets from putting up confederate flags (something that only very recently has become interpreted as a hate symbol in the north) on Ave D must be considerable! (rather stupid, but not necessarily racist or hateful by any stretch)