Tom Boland (
Fri, 7 May 1999 22:07:17 -0700 (PDT)

[posted circa April 30, 1999]

New York Post Online Edition: News

PHOTO: Officers haul off a reluctant evictee from the building yesterday. -
NY Post: G.N. Miller


Cops used drills and jackhammers yesterday to smash through the heavily
barricaded front door of a booby-trapped East Village tenement and arrest
13 defiant squatters, authorities said.

During the tense, four-hour standoff, the squatters allegedly hurled
firecrackers and taunts at the 100 cops while supporters chanted, "Let them

Once police finally got inside, nine other squatters left on their own,
heeding warnings to get out or be arrested.

The front door to the building on East Ninth Street and Avenue C was
cemented shut.

But before cops could get to it, they had to remove a wall of obstacles -
including tree stumps, refrigerators, air conditioners and couches.

After doing that, cops used sledgehammers, circular saws, jackhammers and a
truck to cut a hole in the entrance - and remove giant cement blocks
serving as barricades behind it.

It took police four hours to get into the six-story building, with one
officer seriously cutting his hand.

As cops labored, defiant squatters allegedly hurled firecrackers from
windows and fire escapes.

And 200 supporters shouted encouragement to the squatters, chanting slogans
and playing drums and pipes.

Once inside, cops found that the squatters had used tar and paint to
booby-trap the building.

And three squatters frustrated efforts to remove them by handcuffing
themselves to the fire escape and covering their arms with metal pipes.

The eviction ended a long-running battle between the squatters and a
development company, East Nine LLC, a fight that dragged through the courts
for almost a year.

NYPD Chief Allan Hoehl said the squatters had running water and
electricity, but lived in squalid conditions, with staircases ripped out
and debris littering the inside of the apartments.

Squatter Kim Sim, 35, said people had lived in the building off and on
since 1983, with the 26 apartments providing accommodation for up to three
dozen people.

"It's a vacant building. We saved it. We have been there for years. The
owner has neglected it and the current crop of people have done a lot of
work," Sim said.

Sim, who moved out before the police arrived, said the squatters had
carried out substantial renovations on the building, including a new roof,
plumbing and electrical wiring.

"Without us, the building would have gone to waste. We were doing people a
favor by living there."

City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez questioned why taxpayers' money was spent
to evict the squatters on behalf of a private company.

"The city should not be paying this bill. It is a scandal. This did not
have to happen. The company should be responsible for this abuse of
resources," she said.

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