Machine Guns Confiscated, Arrests Made at Former Squat House

DSCF4089joelogon’s Flickr A toy gun, modeled after the Tec-9.

Police confiscated two Tec-9 machine guns from an apartment at 377 East 10th Street and arrested three residents of the building early in the morning on April 1, a police source told The Local.

The building on East 10th Street, between Avenues B and C, is a former squat house that residents were able to buy from the city for $1 in a deal negotiated in 2002 with help from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board. In 2003 it was described as “one of the quieter, more well established squats,” so it is unclear why the three residents possessed the guns, which are the same model as the ones used in the Columbine shootings.

Police entered the apartment with a search warrant and recovered the weapons at 4:45 a.m. “These guns were made for killing, there is no other legitimate purpose to have one,” said the police source.

A resident of the building tells a different story, however.

IMG_9770Roni Jacobson

“This is very simple; some kid got busted for marijuana,” said Eric, who has lived in the building for 20 years and declined to give his last name. “I heard a bunch of noisy cops come into the building,” he said, but, “I don’t know that any guns were involved.”

As for the other two people, he said that family members in the apartment may have been arrested “mistakenly.” “If I were you, I’d forget about it,” he told a reporter for the Local.

Other building residents were even less forthcoming about the arrests. “I don’t really want to comment about that,” said Frank Morales, a priest and community organizer whom The Local followed on a tour through reclaimed spaces last year.

Residents of 377 East 10th Street have a long history of community activism through their involvement with the homesteading movement. They recently had a building-wide meeting regarding the New York Housing Authority’s controversial plan to lease land to private developers, Eric said.

However, “any suggestion that this has to do with our activism is ridiculous,” he said. “We believe in the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, that we will get a hell of a lot more change by education and public solidarity and positions of integrity.”