When Black man who works as a producer was waiting for a Lyft in the lobby of his New York City apartment building, he was approached by a white man he’d never met. Instead of engaging in a friendly conversation between neighbors, the white man accused him of not living in the Upper East Side complex.
“What are you doing in my building?” the white man, nicknamed “Hallway Harry,” asked Chika Okafor, 29.
“You don’t live here,” he continued.
Okafor, who is a producer for Bleacher Report, was waiting in the lobby with a friend, who is also Black, until his Lyft arrived to take him to a company holiday party. While standing in the lobby, Okafor was harassed by the unidentified white man, reported the New York Times.
“I’ve never seen you before,” Okafor’s white neighbor said. “I’ve lived here 27 years.”
Although Okafor has not lived in the East 74th street building for decades, he has been a resident since last year. During the interaction, Okafor pulled out his camera and began recording. He then posted the video to social media, where it went viral, much the like the past videos of “Permit Patty” and “BBQ Becky.”
“I felt insulted,” Okafor told the New York Times. “I felt violated. To me, his behavior suggested that, one, because we were people of color we were a threat to their safety, and, two, because we are people of color we can’t afford to live in that type of apartment complex.”
“It’s the Upper East Side. It’s considered to be one of the wealthy parts of Manhattan. It’s a nice apartment,” he added.
On Okafor’s Facebook post, a woman named Janah Reynolds said the same white man tried to keep her and her family from entering their Airbnb in the same building. She said they called the police multiple times, but officers never came.
Okafor said that he has sublet an apartment in the building since last December, but refused to give “Hallway Harry” specifics on the apartment when he demanded to know.
“It is none of his business,” Okafor told the Times. “He doesn’t own the building. Just because he has lived there for 27 years, it doesn’t give him the right to interrogate other people.”
When Okafor reported the incident to the building manager, she said she could not intervene and told him to report the harassment to police, the tenant said.
The building manager has not commented on the incident.
Now Okafor, who is planning to re-sign his lease, expects an apology from the man and he thinks the man should be evicted from the building.
“I’m not going to change how I live my life based on this guy’s inappropriate behavior,” Okafor said.