By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
EAST VILLAGE — The city is standing up to the Hells Angels by reportedly ordering the notorious motorcycle club to remove a barricade from atop a bench outside its East 3rd Street clubhouse installed to prevent passersby from claiming a seat.
The club placed a plastic bar over the bench to keep non-members from planting themselves on the group's turf, but the Department of Transportation recently ruled that the seating is on public property and would require a permit for the guard, the New York Post reported.
"We are living in a city right now where every street and every major thoroughfare is so heavily pockmarked with potholes that major intersections look like they've been subject to shelling in Afghanistan," said noted civil-rights attorney Ron Kuby, lawyer for the Hells Angels. "And the DOT seems worried about a park bench that nobody is complaining about."
The bench blocker appeared after the club attached a sign to the structure warning people not to sit on it because it was private property.
The guard was installed because guests from a hotel located next door to the clubhouse continued to treat the seating as their own.
No one answered the door at the East 3rd Street property on Monday.
"The irony is that the reason the city cracks down on benches is because they attract homeless people and people loitering," Kuby said, adding that DOT officials told him at least a dozen other pieces of street furniture on the block were also in violation.
"I pointed out that the bar there exists to prevent people from loitering. So that's why you're cracking down, because the Hells Angels are preventing trespassers from hanging out on the street?" Kuby said.
A DOT spokesman said that the agency is currently working on an alternative for the club, but did not immediately say whether the barricade would be allowed to return.
The infamous biker club, which has dozens of charters across the globe, has been at the East 3rd Street location since 1969.