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Landlord Sues Tenant, Then Withdraws Suit, Over Confederate Flag Display

By Allegra Hobbs | August 21, 2017 9:11am | Updated on August 22, 2017 8:21am
 A tenant at 403 E. Eighth Street has two Confederate flags displayed in his windows.
A tenant at 403 E. Eighth Street has two Confederate flags displayed in his windows.
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Paul Bakija

EAST VILLAGE — A tenant whose window display of lit-up Confederate flags has left his East Eighth Street building under siege previously blasted offensive music from his apartment, threw trash out his window and even tried to jump to his death from the building, according to a Saturday lawsuit filed by his landlord, who has also sought to evict the resident.

The landlord had dropped the lawsuit by Monday, court papers show. 

William Green's glowing display of two Confederate battle flags in the windows of his top-floor apartment at 403 E. Eighth St. have posed a "clear and present danger" to the building and the surrounding community by sparking violence and mayhem, says the complaint filed Saturday by property owner 113 Avenue D, LLC in New York State Supreme Court.

Green, a rent-stabilized tenant with a lease dating back to 1996, is in violation of both the "Objectionable Conduct" clause of his lease and the Rent Stabilization Code because the flags are a nuisance burdening other tenants in the building and he should be evicted as a result, the lawsuit states.

The landlord plans to kick Green out, the suit says, and is seeking permission from the court to keep the flags off the windows in the meantime. The landlord is also seeking unspecified damages and legal fees, the suit says.

The suit also dredges up past problematic behavior from Green, alleging he also tossed garbage out his window, blared offensive music, threw a TV down the building's stairs, displayed "German Cross flags" in his windows before replacing them with the Confederate flags, and attempted suicide by trying to jump from his window.

In a supporting affidavit, landlord Charles Yassky of the management group calls displaying the flags a "sociopathic exercise" and asks the court to let management enter the apartment and take down the flags and to order Green to keep them down. 

However, the flags — which had been in the windows for at least several months — were already gone as of Saturday, after neighbor Darren Keen, 34, was arrested for breaking one of Green's apartment windows.

That incident was the culmination of a week of controversy surrounding the windows, which kicked off shortly after a violent rally left a woman dead in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparking alarm among neighbors who noticed the  flags overhead. 

Tenants have been afraid for their safety since controversy began swirling around the display, the complaint states. As evidence, it cites a series of emails that dating back to Wednesday evening, in which a handful of rattled tenants implore the building's manager to address the situation, some pointing to an incident Wednesday morning when an angry neighbor hurled rocks at the building. 

The offending display is made worse by the fact that Green has "provocatively installed spot lights" to illuminate the flags at night, the complaint states. The suit also points to the events in Charlottesville, stating the tragedy and subsequent remarks by President Donald Trump make the continued flag showcase "unreasonable."

Yassky sent an email to Green on Thursday telling him other building tenants were being threatened because of his flags, and threatening to post Green's photo and contact information on the building door unless he takes the flags down immediately, emails included in the court papers show.

Green wrote back Saturday saying he was in the mountains to witness the solar eclipse and found the sudden anger about the flags "suspicious," adding they could talk about the issue when he returned.

"I"ve [sic] had those flags up for over a year, I find all the alleged commotion while I'm on vacation a little suspicious," he said, according to the emails.

Green did not immediately return an email seeking comment on the lawsuit. 

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