People Can't Decide If This Condo's Wall Decor Should Be Considered A Hate Crime

"This lobby is a hate crime.”

By Eric Shorey

A new condo in Queens, New York has been garnering criticism, with some going as far as calling the decor inside the building a hate crime, according to Gothamist. 

With a swastika, a shrine to the confederacy, and images of Hitler -- the building's property manager now must answer to outrage on social media and to accusations about the mistreatment of minority tenants.

Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer led a rally to protest the 47-55 39th Place apartment building, asking police to investigate the display of hateful iconography. 

"I see and have had them tell me personally how afraid they are, and they're literally unable to speak out for fear of retaliation from this man, so we as a community have to speak out for them," Van Bramer said. "If you put it all together—the images in the lobby with the fear I've been told firsthand by people who live there—you realize there's something much larger going on."

"This lobby is a hate crime,” Van Bramer said elsewhere.

NY1 reports the lobby displays are the work of condo board leader Neal Milano. Reporters also noted that the building's directory inexplicably listed the names of prominent Nazis Rudolf Hess and Josef Mengel, along with rappers Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, LL Cool J, and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Milano has been known to put pro-Trump bumperstickers on tenants' doors as well.

"As a brown person, the interior really scares me, and makes me really fearful of walking around the neighborhood," said a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation retribution. "That row of houses is very integrated, very brown, but it only takes one bad apple with a gun."

"We’re supposed to feel safe and secure where we live, and at the moment, we don’t because we all feel bullied by this individual,” said another local.

Milano has not commented on the situation but his attorney, Jacob Laufer, offered the following statement: “The murals were put up with the approval of the board of managers," Jacob Laufer told the Post. "[Critics] can run for the board and if they succeed in becoming members of the board, then they can, I guess, do otherwise."

The Anti-Defamation League has characterized the decorations as  "divisive, offensive, and hateful... New Yorkers must be able to feel safe and welcome in their homes free of hostility and intimidation," said Regional Director Evan R. Bernstein. "Adorning an apartment building lobby with such imagery sends a disturbing message of intimidation to tenants, potential tenants and the community at large. Our communities, homes and neighborhoods should be inclusive and welcoming—not plastered with instantly recognizable symbols of racism or hate which only threaten to intimidate and isolate."

[Photo: Twitter]

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