Big Red News
July 26, 1986


Tenants Say Police Act As Landlord Goons
By Paul DeRienzo

According to a group of Harlem residents, on May 7th, members of the New York City Police Dept. used sledgehammers to illegally enter their homes, seeking to evict them.

Tenants of 36 West 130th Street, part of the historic Harlem district called Astor Row, charged that officers from the 32nd Precinct working with Helen Daniels, the landlord, came into their home without a search warrant, with name tags obscured and guns drawn.

According to Dolores Shepard, who has lived at 36 West 130th Street for twelve years, officers went into an apartment and placed a gun at a tenant’s head. "The landlord wants you out by Friday" the officers said.

The next day according to supporters from Harlem Reclamation Project, three of-the officers returned and repeated the warning. However, when supporters went to the 32nd Precinct to complain, they were told there was no record of the visits.

Ensia Akuffa-Bea, a representative of Harlem Reclamation Project, said the harassment continued on May 21st when plainclothes police showed up–asking for Dolores Shepard. One of the officers, a white man, introduced himself as Marvin Blue.

Later when tenants and supporters visited the 32nd Precinct they discovered that Marvin Blue was a Black community affairs officer.

I. Akuffa-Bea said the man who earlier had said he was Blue happened to be at the precinct. He was a narcotics division Lieutenant named Farrel. On the basis of this incident and the earlier visits to 36 West 130th Street, Harlem Reclamation Project filed a complaint with the Police Civilian Complaint Review Board for the tenants, charging officers from the 32nd Precinct with "abuse of authority."

A tree lined oasis among the housing projects and dilapidated buildings of central Harlem, West 130th Street between Lenox and 5th Ave. was designated a landmark district by New York City in 1981.

However, despite the blocks outward tranquility tenants from 36 West 130th St. have been without water and electricity since June when pipes and wiring in the basement were found vandalized. They charge the damage was done by crack users employed by a neighbor, Robert Acres, who claims to be the building's superintendent.

Shepard says that Acres 4ho lives nearby at 22 West 130th Street began accompanying Daniels on visits to the building shortly after-she purchased the building four months ago. She alleges that Acres pays drug addicts who stole ‘the building’s electric meter cut phone lines and then shut off water valves.

Shepard also says she fears Acres who she says has threatened her for being what he called, a "ringleader" of the other tenants. According to officers at the 32nd Precinct, Robert Acres’ home at 22 West 130th Street is under investigation for narcotic sales. When informed of the police inquiry, Helen Daniels said She was unaware of any investigation of Acres’ house. Contrary to Acres’ statement that he was her super, Daniels insisted that Acres is a friend but has never worked for her.

On June 29th, Harlem Reclamation. Project, Harlem Fightback and several other organizations organized a rally of 50 people in front of 36 West 130th Street. Speakers denounced gentrification, police corruption and linked the police intrusions at the house with the violent repression of Blacks in South Africa and the massacre of Move members in Philadelphia last year.

The rally marched to the 32nd Cont. p. 25 Precinct where protesters demanded LA. Farrel from narcotics meet with them. While he didn’t appear, precinct Captain Thomas Walsh said7he was aware of a Civilian Complaint Review Board inquiry of officers in the precinct and an ongoing investigation of narcotics sales on 130th Street.

According to the Civilian Complaint Review Board a report on the charges of police abuse of authority must be released by September.

 

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