After the great Bushwick Trailer Park fiasco, stories of evictions in the neighborhood don't come as much of a surprise—but this latest tale is a little different, because all of the residents were living in a legally converted loft space when the FDNY came knocking.
BushwickBK reports that last night, dozens of artsy-type residents of a large loft building at 345 Eldert Street were given vacate orders by the fire department, for violations including illegal and poorly built mezzanines, illegal plumbing and blocked sprinklers. Ultimately, 46 of the 71 units were served, and demolition crews began tearing apart lofts. That's when things got ugly, as a handful of angry residents began throwing paper out of the window, which the FDNY was apparently not thrilled about. "No matter what you do, even if you take out the violations — we’re kicking you out no matter what," one resident quoted the fire chief as saying. At that point, shit started really hitting the fan.
"There was no need to vacate the entire building on one day. They could have done one floor per day and saved a traumatic and chaotic experience for everyone. Everyone is upset, and people were crying left right and center as their lives were ruined and they were treated like CRIMINALS by the pissed off authorities...I’m very disappointed with the aggressive response by authorities and have lost respect for the notion that they were trying to make the place safer. The aggression wasn’t necessary. The ENTIRE building being sent into chaos at once was not necessary. They should be more respectful. No one here was a criminal," wrote one commenter.
"I live(ed) in one of the affected units. When I got home from work yesterday, there was NO sticker on my door ordering me to vacate. At 10pm, a herd of firemen, cops, etc. banged on the door and ordered us to open up. We did and were told we had to vacate immediately. After I pleaded, they gave us 10 minutes to pack our things, under the watchful eye of a uniformed police officer, before we were escorted out. I understand the fire safety issue. But the theatrical display put on by the authorities yesterday was ridiculous," writes another.
One of the building's residents, Sean Kean, has set up a site for concerned residents and supporters, and the Red Cross is housing roughly 40 of the displaced residents in nearby motel rooms. An FDNY spokesman didn't know what we were talking about when we called for a statement, saying, "if it was in Bushwick, it was probably for an illegal conversion or something."