The fight over a wall overlooking a flea market in Bushwick escalated in recent days when the market’s critics used its founder’s social media posts to accuse him of being racist.
Rob Abner, who operates the Bushwick Flea along Wyckoff Avenue every weekend, fended off claims that he is racist and that his market takes advantage of a neighborhood caught in the middle of a gentrification debate.
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Earlier this month, Abner oversaw the installation of a crocheted street art piece on a wall facing his market that he does not have legal access to, drawing the ire of longtime residents who felt disrespected and taken advantage of by Abner.
In response, a Facebook post circulated among neighbors and friends on Sept. 18 captured a series of social media posts made by Abner between 2013 and August 2015 that praised mass deportations of African migrants in Israel (“Sounds like something we should try here,” he wrote) and theories of undocumented children bringing disease to the United States (writing, “Let’s just bring every third world disease here.”)
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Selected social media posts made it onto a flier taped along Wykcoff Avenue with text that read: “BOYCOTT BUSHWICK FLEA” and “RACISTS OUT OF BUSHWICK.”
No one Metro reached out to regarding the flier knew who printed them or when they were posted. On Thursday, Abner told Metro everything on the flier was a lie.
“Everyone who knows me knows that the things on that flier are lies, and that’s all that matters,” he wrote in an email to Metro. “I am anti-ILLEGAL immigration. I think ILLEGAL immigration hurts us all.”
Abner added that his grandparents were immigrants, and that Bushwick Flea celebrates the neighborhood’s diversity through its vendors and customers.
“People can come judge for themselves,” he said.
On Tuesday, Abner agreed to take down the 15-foot-tall yarn installation that featured caricatures of the twin girls from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” holding hands with a Wes Anderson character from “Moonrise Kingdom.”
The nephew of the Bushwick building owner who lambasted Abner for sanctioning the art without permission in his own now-viral Facebook post, Will Giron, did not respond to Metro for comment.