UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Residents of an Upper East Side co-op are afraid for their safety after unverified posters appeared in the neighborhood, tying their building to an anti-Semitic sweatshirt worn by a man at last week's storming of the U.S. Capitol.
The Holocaust-mocking sweatshirt, reading "Camp Auschwitz," was captured in numerous photographs of the Jan. 6 rampage, worn by a man later identified as Virginia resident Robert Keith Packer.
Quickly, internet sleuths discovered that the sweatshirt was listed for sale on the website TeeHands.com, along with other offensive merchandise. The website's contact information listed an address that appeared to be on the Upper East Side: 300-392 East 85th Street.
The address is nonsensical: that span of addresses would cover a full block, and the 300 block of East 85th runs only as high as 352. Another page on the TeeHands site listed an address in Norway, and searches of New York state and city business databases yielded no results for TeeHands, casting further doubt on the retailer's reliability.
Still, on Sunday, David Cohn, president of the 300 East 85th Housing Corp., awoke to a worried email from a fellow co-op board member. Fliers had been pasted around their 40-story building, the neighbor said, omitting the "392" and alleging that TeeHands operated directly out of 300 East 85th.
"This means the person supporting and profiting off the sales of this shirt lives in our neighborhood," the poster reads.
But Cohn insists the chances of a T-shirt business being run out of his building are minimal.
"We have 24/7 concierge service and we know all the packages that go in and out of this building," he said. "Everybody knows which businesses are operating out of this building, and there's no TeeHands."
"People are scared"
Later Sunday, Cohn contacted the NYPD's 19th Precinct, fearing that his building had become "a sitting duck for people who thought that we were Nazis." The building's property manager also contacted the FBI.
"People are scared, they think people might want to attack us," he said.
City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who condemned initial reports that TeeHands was based in the neighborhood, said he welcomed news that the address may have been fake.
"The Upper East Side is a welcoming and friendly place. We do not harbor White supremacists or their sympathizers, so of course, it makes sense that the address listed for this shady company selling racist T-shirts is not a real address in my district," he said in a statement.
"White supremacists are on notice though — here on the Upper East Side they will be exposed and asked to leave."
By Sunday evening, the website had been taken offline, and an email to TeeHands' listed address was not returned.
Cohn, too, said his co-op board would take swift action if the business were found to exist.
"We would try immediately to cancel their lease and evict them for objectionable conduct."