At the Faribault Daily News, Gunnar Olson reports in Jones family, rental ordinance at the heart of ACLU lawsuit against city:
Family barbecues and kids jumping on trampolines were a constant in Thelma Jones’ Faribault backyard, but during her five years in the rental home, police were called to her residence 82 times, laying the groundwork for her eviction.
The five-bedroom home, which Jones shared with her children and grandchildren, was the “perfect place” for them, she said.
“We had the trampoline in the back with kids jumping on it, having fun,” she recalled of the home she was evicted from last year. “The neighbors would call the police and say they were out there smoking drugs or selling drugs.”
According to data obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the city of Faribault over its Rental Licensing Ordinance, the constant calls to police by neighbors put Jones and her family at odds with the Rental Licensing Ordinance over what was deemed “disorderly conduct.”
“For what? For kids?” she asked. “It was really ridiculous. If someone called, you had the whole Faribault Police squad there in no time, down the whole block, and I was like, ‘this is so embarrassing.’”
A draft copy of the lawsuit, which alleges the rental ordinance violates the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, was obtained by the Daily News prior to the ACLU filing it in federal court Wednesday.
According to Jones and her daughter Priyia Lacey, who are both plaintiffs in the case against, one of their neighbors was “really nice” and let the family be. Lacey is an employee of APG of Southern Minnesota, parent company of Faribault Daily News. A neighbor on the other side, however, routinely called the police on Jones and her family. She also noticed the neighbor across the street, on multiple occasions, using binoculars to survey her home. . . .
Read the entire article at the Faribault Daily News.
Apparently, calls were made to the police because black people were standing on the lawn. The ACLU has more in Minnesota City’s Ordinance Illegally Targets People of Color in Rental Housing:
But Thelma and her family got evicted from their home because of Faribault’s Rental Licensing Ordinance and its so-called Crime Free Housing Program, which we and the ACLU of Minnesota are challenging today in federal court. Harassing calls to the police from Thelma’s white neighbors had brought the police to her home many times, like when her kids were jumping on the trampoline or when a group of Black teenagers was standing in her yard.
One neighbor even told Thelma to her face that Thelma should “go back where she came from.” In response, the police labelled Thelma and her family “problem tenants.” They threatened Thelma’s landlord with criminal prosecution under the ordinance unless she kicked Thelma and her family out. In a matter of months, Thelma’s family lost their home. . . .
Buried in the Daily News' copy, we find this sentiment from a former mayor:
In its 69-page complaint, the ACLU outlines its suit, claiming the ordinance was adopted with the intent to discriminate against Somalis and blacks.
To do so, it cites a 2014 memo written by Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen that denies any uptick in crime downtown, despite public opinion at the time. A later memo from city Planning Coordinator Peter Waldock noted that drafting the Crime-Free Multi-Housing program was city staff’s way of addressing “concerns” about crime downtown.
The suit also cited comments by public officials they deemed “coded expressions of racism” in early discussions of the ordinance.
Among those are former mayor, now state Sen. John Jasinski’s remarks referring to evicted tenants as “undesirables” and current City Councilor Janna Viscomi saying the city needed to attract those with higher incomes to balance the lower-income people, “or we’re going to flip like Detroit in a few years.”
Lovely. Here's the complaint:
Jones et al v. City of Faribault by on Scribd
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