Neighbors Remember Weirdness

The New York Daily News/November 13, 1996
By Austin Evans Fenner, James Rutenberg and Stephen Mcfarland

Members of the cultlike group nabbed on weapons charges dubbed themselves The Supers and were known for secretive and confrontational behavior, Brooklyn neighbors said yesterday.

Members at times demanded access at all hours of the night to apartments in three buildings on Carroll St., in Crown Heights, owned by their organization, the tenants said.

Group members often appeared to search for personal information about residents of their buildings. Several tenants said that when they put garbage at the curb, the group would take it back inside, apparently to search for clues. They also maintained a 24-hour watch over the block from a second-floor window at 1107 Carroll St., the building where a police raid Monday night turned up a huge cache of guns, knives and ammunition.

"I really thought they were a cult, some supremacist thing," said Olga Arquer, who had lived in one of the buildings for 20 years. "There was one older guy who looked like the leader," she said. "I would ask his name, and he'd said, 'I'm the supervisor.' "

Several cult experts yesterday said the group was known as the Eastern Farm Workers Association and the National Labor Federation.

Tenants and neighbors said a changing cast of about 50 members lived in the buildings.

Tenants were strictly forbidden to enter the basements or backyards of the four-story, eight-apartment structures. Group members often denied access to utility repair and inspection crews, tenants said.

"If they want to fix a leak or something, they bring four people, and they look at what you have in your apartment. They always look around to see what you have in your apartment," said one tenant, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Organization members were once active in a neighborhood group called the Crown Heights Progress Council, said Richard Green, director of the Crown Heights Youth Collective.

Green said he was surprised that the largely white group had made its base in Crown Heights, a predominantly neighborhood.

Echoing building tenants, Green said he was surprised that the group had an arsenal of weapons. "You can't plant or cook with guns," Green said, "so they had them for a reason."

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