Last week, tenants at a Sunnyside condo spoke out against the building’s property manager who they say has been harassing them for years and today the city announced it would launch an investigation.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer held a press conference outside of 47-55 39th Place, a building decked out in posters that pay tribute to dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini, as well as the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights announced on Aug. 29 that it would be investigating tenants’ claims about property manager Neal Milano, who slaps Trump stickers on the doors of tenants he is feuding with. He has also installed several cameras around the condo to “watch and monitor the people who live in this building,” Van Bramer said.
The hallway also includes quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President George Washington and William B. Travis. Two 10-foot-tall statues of Uncle Sam flank the entryway doors.
Milano’s attorney, Jacob Laufer, has spoken to the media on behalf of Milano and called the murals “patriotic” and “historical.”
According to Van Bramer, tenants were afraid to appear on camera or speak to reporters but told him they have been threatened with outrageous fines, eviction and even physical violence for filing harassment reports with police or for minor offenses, including recycling errors.
The property manger’s “racist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant actions” take place on “almost a daily basis,” he said at the press conference on Aug. 23.
“The issues at the building affects people like me who are immigrants and renters the most,”said a tenant who declined to provide a name. “They are the ones who are intimidated and harassed the most and more afraid to say anything. His actions create a hostile environment.”
“Discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in New York City and the NYC Commission on Human Rights is cracking down on anyone who thinks they are above the law,” said Deputy Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau at the NYC Commission on Human Rights Hollis V. Pfitsch. “Despite hostile rhetoric on the national level, no one in New York City has permission to harass or threaten another person because of who they are, what they believe, or what they look like.”
The Commission can fine violators with civil penalties of up to $250,000 for willful and malicious violations of the law and can award damages to victims, including emotional distress damages and other benefits.
Jeff Orlick, a Queens resident who hosts the Jackson Heights momo crawl every year, went into the building on Aug. 28 and took down some of the posters depicting Hitler, DNAinfo first reported.
Orlick told the publication that he accepts any repercussions he may face but that “someone had to do something, and it’s a real shame that it took this long for anybody to do anything.”