A Brooklyn landlord is requesting his tenants remove Black Lives Matter and anti-police signs from their window, fueling a small mutiny among residents of one Bushwick loft building.

"The time is up. Think we got you enough time to show support for Black lives matter movement. Can you take it down please," reads one of the emails, sent this past Monday to a tenant who'd hung a bedsheet with the BLM slogan from their window.

Another email, referring to a "Fuck The NYPD" interior window display, advises: "Be smart take the sign down."

The requests were sent by Dorina Realty, the management company operated by the building's owner, Alfred Shtainer. Tenants previously accused the landlord of attempting to hike rent and deregulate protected apartments at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. Inquiries to Dorina Realty and Shtainer were not returned.

Tenants of the Flushing Avenue apartment said Shtainer's notices only made them more determined to hang signage in support of the swelling protest movement.

"People who didn’t have signs started making signs to put up," said Jen Chantrtanapichate, a longtime resident. "The consensus in the building was, basically: fuck this. Not only is he raising rent during a pandemic, he’s also asking people to not show support for racial justice."

A window display at a Flushing Avenue apartment

The dust-up comes during the third straight week of protests against racist police brutality, amid a growing effort to dramatically cut funding to the NYPD. But it's hardly the first time the city's apartment windows have served as a battleground for contentious fights over political speech.

After the 2016 election, longtime renters in a newly-converted Tribeca condo building were instructed to take down their Hillary Clinton signs, something they considered unconstitutional. The Times coverage noted that First Amendment protections would not necessarily apply to window decor hung by "people living in condos, co-ops and privately owned rental buildings."

A year later, the windows of an Alphabet City apartment drew citywide attention, after a resident hung and dramatically backlit a pair of Confederate flags. The landlord filed and quickly withdrew an eviction case over the flags. That issue was ultimately resolved by an East Village DJ, who snuck onto a fire escape and smashed the apartment's windows.

In the Bushwick case, the landlord's theoretical ability to stop his tenants from expressing their views could depend on whether the message is shared on the interior or exterior of the building.

"In order to sustain a breach of lease claim, the landlord has to show the breach is substantial or material," said David Frazer, a housing attorney. "I’d argue a sign posted in a tenant's window is not substantial or material, whereas a banner draped over the building might be."

According to the building's residents, the landlord's attention to their signs runs counter to his typical hands-off approach to other issues facing the building.

"It’s kind of weird that he care about the aesthetic when it's a poster for Black Lives Matter," noted Chantrtanapichate, the tenant. "One of our doors on the outside of our building has been broken for weeks. There's mail is strewn about the lobby. There’s trash everywhere. For some reason, he never seems to be nitpicky about that stuff."