Dozens Protest Beach 119 Street SRO
Dozens of locals marched on Sunday in front of the Beach 102 Street home of the owners of 159 Beach 119 Street, a single room occupancy house, chanting slogans and urging the owners to rid the building of drug dealers and sex offenders.
Led by the young mother of three children who lives on Beach 119 Street, the protesters argued that Jacob and Herzlia Amrussi, who live on Beach 102 Street, have ignored the pleas and demands to clean up the building for several years and complain that the couple does not care what happens on the beach block of Beach 119 Street because they are absentee owners.
"For years, the residents have been living under horrific conditions," said the protest's organizer, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution against her children. "Drug dealers, drug users and sex offenders have occupied the premises. This creates a dangerous condition not only for our children, but also for the entire community."
"[The drug buyers] are in and out of the building all the time," she said. "You can sit there and watch them. A few weeks ago, one of the residents sat on my porch rolling joints and using weed. The police have been here a number of times and some drug arrests were made, but the dealers just come back to live there."
She charges that, while her kids have never been directly threatened by the residents of the SRO, it is only a matter of time before something happens.
"[The Amrussi's] can sit on their front porch on Beach 102 Street and play with their grandchildren," she said. "We can't do that with our children and grandchildren on our block, because it's too dangerous"
The resident cites Eddie Durant and his mother, Debbie, as two of the drug dealers in the SRO.
For a time, a registered sex offender, who had molested a 12-year-old child, also lived in the building, but recent checks show the person no longer lives in the SRO.
Eilat Amrussi, the couple's daughter, told The Wave on Monday morning that she was very disturbed and embarrassed by the protest, and that it was not necessary to spur her parents to action.
"Those people [who protested in front of her home] were just out of control," she told The Wave. "We have been dealing with this issue for two years and we have been losing money. The people don't pay their rent, we can hardly make the mortgage. I wouldn't want to be in my parents' shoes. They called them drug dealers. Neither of them has ever even smoked a cigarette."
She said that her parents had hired a lawyer to try and get the bad tenants out of the building, but that the lawyer ran them around and then did nothing.
"We have been to court a number of times, but the court does not allow us to throw any tenants out," she said. "They have all the rights, and we have none."
"It's just not fair," she added. "My parents are hard-working people who do not sit at home, and everybody is attacking us. They are not looking at what we are doing [about the problem], we have been trying for a long time."
She knocked Democratic District Leader Lew Simon, who was one of the protest leaders.
"He is a negative person," she said of Simon. "He looked at me and I felt his hatred. He is not listening, just trying to get votes."
"We want to get the house knocked down and build something nice there," Amrussi concluded. "We went to the cops and to officials and told them that, but they did nothing. Now, the cops don't even protect us from these people who come to our home and yell at us."
On Tuesday night, Herzlia Amrussi met with the protest leaders and local officials. She said that she would be taking some of the tenants charged with criminality to court this month in an attempt to evict them from the building.
Protest leaders, however, termed her promise as "too little, too late."
Jonathon Gaska, the district manger for Community Board 14, said that city officials are aware of the problem.
"We have been at that location with the task force on a number of occasions," Gaska said. "I have spoken to the captain and to the local community council. There have been problems off and on during the past few years, and we are looking to deal with those problems."
"The owners don't seem to get the message," Gaska said. "You have to be a good neighbor, a good citizen and that means you have to get good tenants."