Last Monday, the headquarters of Global Revolution TV, the livestream that puts out video for Occupy Wall Street content, was raided by New York City building inspectors. Despite having paid $2,000 a month for rent on their apartment and studio space at 13 Thames St. in Bushwick for two years, Vlad Teichberg and his pregnant wife Nikky suddenly found themselves at 8 p.m. on the day after New Year’s, with guns allegedly pointed at their faces as cops and firefighters accompanied the Inspectors who deemed their floor unlivable. They were forced to leave. The next day, Mr. Teichberg and six of the Global Revolution operatives were arrested for trespassing and (Mr. Teichberg was also held for 30 hours and charged for assaulting his landlord) when they tried to go back into their own home and retrieve papers from their apartment.
Video of the arrests on January 3rd, outside of the Bushwick space:
Mr. Teichberg, whom The New York Observer spoke to over the phone this evening, believes that forces were working against him…he’s just not sure which. He’d already been having problems with his landlord, with whom he’d had wiring and Con-Ed issues with in the past, and whom he believed wanted him and his friends out. Then again, as a member of one of OWS’ most prominent media advocates, he’d make an easy target for the local authorities trying to shut down his DIY operations.
Surprisingly, you don’t need to be a paranoid conspiracy theorist to believe Mr. Teichberg. One needs to look no further than New York’s Bed Bug Registry to see that the space has been rented out for residential use for at least two years. (Talk about unlivable conditions!)
It does strike us as odd that the police would arrest Mr. Teichberg and the Global Revolution crew–and only those individuals–for living in a commercial space that was being leased out to a whole building’s worth of residents. And here are some more questions: Why was Global Revolution’s floor the only one served an eviction notice? Wouldn’t the bigger issue be that the landlord, Mr. Wing Chow was illegally leasing “”imminently perilous to life” commercial space as Bushwick lofts and artist studios? Why was the surprise building inspecting check performed on a national holiday, with police and firefighters in tow, and why were none of the other floors’ residents evacuated if the building had indeed been zoned as commercial instead of residential.
When reached for comment on these litany of questions, Deputy Press Secretary for NYC Department of Buildings Ryan FitzGibbon responded via email:
In March 2011 the Department vacated the 1st floor of 13 Thames Street and the 1st floor and cellar of 15 Thames Street after finding that the manufacturing space had been illegally converted into a cabaret and living spaces, which all lacked a secondary means of egress putting tenants lives at risk – aka proper exits in case of a fire.
This weekend the Department received a complaint about the vacate orders not being complied with and re-inspected the buildings. The Department found that the vacates were being violated and as a result, enforced the vacate orders.