EAST VILLAGE — Police arrested a Midwestern DJ Friday night who bragged on Instagram that he punched through the sixth-floor window of an apartment where a Confederate flag hung — the latest in a maelstrom of controversy surrounding the display, which had been removed by Saturday.
Darren Keen, 34, yelled and broke a window at 403 E. 8th St. around 8:40 p.m. before fleeing, according to the NYPD. He was arrested roughly 30 minutes later.
Keen, who said he lives around the corner from the building, was charged with criminal mischief, given a desk appearance ticket and released.
Police say he threw an object, though Keen told DNAinfo New York he climbed down the fire escape and punched through the window on the west-facing side of the building, which did not contain a flag.
Keen — who moved to New York from Omaha a few years ago — is described on his Soundcloud page as "a one man beat wizard" who had toured for 12 years playing his brand of electronic dance music.
The DJ said he was disturbed when his wife first spotted the flag about a month ago, but became increasingly upset after seeing others in the neighborhood angry over the display since the deadly protests in Charlottesville.
"It's one thing for me, a white Nebraskan, to be annoyed by redneck culture... to actually see the anger and frustration it was causing disadvantaged people in the neighborhood, it escalated my feelings a lot," he said.
Keen took to Instagram after breaking the window in a series of posts to display his bloodied hand and to brag that he had punched the glass in front of police, who were then supposedly knocking on his door.
WARNING: Graphic Language
He posted two subsequent photos of his hand, claiming police were knocking on his door as he was posting.
In one of those posts, he calls the NYPD "racist" and says he plans to "blow a massive weed rip in their face" when he answers the door.
In an Instagram post that shows his arrest outside the building, Keen says he was "dumb" for punching the window instead of painting the Wu-Tang Clan logo on the glass. He claims he yelled "f--k white supremacy wutang is for the children" while being put in the police car.
On Saturday afternoon, he posted a picture of himself grinning with his cut finger, bragging that his action gave police "probable cause" to enter the apartment where the flags hung and remove them.
"I just got a ticket for 'mischief' which is lower than vandalism," he wrote. "S--t worked out real good IMO."
Keen later told DNAinfo over the phone that he wasn't sure if police or building management had taken the flags down or when the removal had taken place.
An NYPD spokesman denied that police entered the apartment and took the flags down, saying that it was freedom of speech. The building's manager did not immediately return a request for comment.
Keen told DNAinfo his initial plan was to paint the Wu-Tang Clan symbol on a tarp that hung over the windows Friday — something that was "very much New York [and] black pride" and "makes people feel good."
When he couldn't find paint, he said he hopped onto the roof from a neighboring building and clambered down the fire escape to attack the sixth-floor window.
"One second I was looking for paint at the store, and the next second I had my T-shirt wrapped around my hand and was punching through this guy's glass window," he said.
Keen wrote that the presence of the Confederate flags had deeply angered him and had a "very profound effect on me" in a post shared before the incident that includes an image of a rainbow flag emblazoned with a rainbow Swastika surrounded by Stars of David.
Though the flags had been in the windows for months — the same windows that had featured Iron Cross flags for years prior, according to a neighbor — locals became enraged and troubled by the sight after last weekend, when a violent white supremacist rally left a woman dead in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Locals started sharing photos of the flags on Monday throughout social media, when several angry commenters suggested hurling rocks or bricks through the windows.
A man was recorded on video Wednesday morning throwing rocks at the building and yelling that the flags must be taken down, leading police to be posted outside the building that night.
The display was covered by a large blue tarp weighed down by chains Friday afternoon, but by Saturday the tarp and the flags in the windows had been removed.
Photo credit: Jannette Brown