Landlord 'paid' biker gang to drive B'klyn tenants out, residents say
Hillgardner says the landlord, Andy Chau, is using the Forbidden Ones Motorcycle Club to “terrorize residents and have them surrender their statutory rights under the loft law,” which protects renters living in illegally converted manufacturing space.
“It’s like the ‘Hotel Altamont’ over there,” he said, referencing the 1969 Rolling Stones-headlined concert at Altamont Speedway in California where Hells Angels bikers acting as security guards menaced concertgoers and stabbed a man to death, immortalized in the documentary “Gimme Shelter.”
Tensions on Thames Street reached a boiling point earlier this year after the Department of Buildings enforced a previously existing vacate order due to a certificate of occupancy violation. A woman who was paying $3,000-a-month for a 2,400-sqaure-foot first-floor space in 15 Thames which is accessible by a garage door got the boot and then helplessly watched as her living quarters became the biker hangout, Hillgardner said.
The Forbidden Ones soon started wheeling their noisy rides inside and hosting rowdy boozefests, alleged the woman who declined to be named for fear of retribution.
Last month, a biker allegedly punched out a friend of the woman after she used her cellphone to photograph them having a suds-swilling soiree. A female hellion hanging out with the motorcycle crew then slammed the woman into a concrete wall as another hood snatched away her phone, residents claim. “They really own this street,” said tenant Matt Gliva. “Almost every weekend, they have big parties.
The buildings, which once stored coffins, have a colorful history. An anarchist film festival there in 2010 drew an NYPD response, and it recently served as broadcast headquarters for an Occupy Wall Street film group that televised the raids at Zuccotti Park.
Many tenants believe Chau, the landlord, brought in the biker club, which boasts 45 members, to scare off tenants so the buildings could be used more profitably. But Chau, speaking through his business partner, Richard Guishard denied the accusation and insisted he wants the bikers to hit the road, too. “We don’t want those people inside the building, especially if they are creating these problems,” Guishard said.
The Forbidden Ones denied using violence and countered that Chau promised to pay them--and let members store their rides--as long as they kept out residents Chau views as squatters. “He said, ‘You can stay if you can keep the people out,’ ” said biker Rafael “Tito” Martinez, 40.