SUNNYSIDE — A vigilante activist upset at a controversial series of posters depicting Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini hung inside the lobby of a condo building ripped the images down himself Monday — saying it was "a shame that it took this long for anybody to do anything."
Jeff Orlick, who is known for hosting community-focused food events, said he felt compelled to act after reading about the building on 39th Place near 48th Avenue, where tenants say condo board member and property manager Neal Milano has papered their lobby with a strange collage of images, including a World War II display that features pictures of the infamous dictators.
"Everyone is expressing their outrage on it, and nobody is doing anything," Orlick told DNAinfo New York in an interview Monday, after posting before-and-after images of the removed posters to his Instagram page.
"Someone had to do something, and it’s a real shame that it took this long for anybody to do anything."
Orlick said he entered the building Monday morning and ripped down a row of images that had been placed above some doors on the first floor depicting different world leaders during WWII. They include Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, but also Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini and a picture of Adolf Hitler doing a Nazi salute alongside a large swastika.
He left the other posters that cover the lobby — a display that includes American flags, pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., and pro-gun posters — intact.
"I am totally for free speech and free thought and representing yourself however you wish to, [but] the fact is that this guy was terrorizing the residents of this building," Orlick explained.
"He was putting these things up that the people, they had outwardly expressed that this did not represent them," he added. "I don’t love butting my nose in other people's business, but this is much bigger than that ... this was pretty clear-cut."
The display prompted elected officials to hold a press conference outside the building last week, denouncing the bizarre decorations and asking the authorities to investigate the property manager for harassing his neighbors.
Those who live in the building said last week that Milano often harasses his neighbors, monitoring their private lives and threatening them with fines or eviction if they do something he doesn't like.
One resident, who declined to give her name for fear of retaliation from the board member, said she no longer invites friends over to her home because she's embarrassed by the display of posters in the lobby.
"It's extremely unwelcoming," she said.
Some of the other images of guns posted in the lobby of the building on 39th Place. (Credit: Jimmy Van Bramer's Office)
Attempts to reach Milano were not successful Monday, and his lawyer did not return a call seeking comment, though told news outlets last week that the lobby's images were intended to be historical.
"I understand the freedom to express yourself, but this was going too far," Orlick said Monday.
The Jackson Heights resident is no stranger to taking matters into his own hands.
Last year, he made bumper stickers that read "I park like an A**HOLE," to slap on cars that parked in front of fire hydrants or committed other traffic offenses.
He said he's willing to accept whatever consequences might come from his decision to take down the posters.
"It's totally fine. I'm willing to get in trouble for it," he said. "I'm not hiding."