Nobody wants to live in a bad neighborhood, right? And certainly nobody wants to live in the kind of place where the police are continually coming around.
But consider this situation. Imagine you get beaten up. As bad luck would have it, it happens a couple more times. The third time, the cops call your landlord and order him to evict you. After all, you’re a troublemaker. Bad things happen around you, and this town doesn’t want your sort here. Sound far fetched? Unfortunately, laws all over the country designed to make it easier to
move known drug dealers and pimps into crappier areas evict criminal neighbors are being used to evict crime victims instead:
Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs’ boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events, a police officer then told Ms. Briggs, “You are on three strikes. We’re gonna have your landlord evict you.”
Yes, that’s right. The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown’s “disorderly behavior ordinance,” the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes “domestic disturbances” as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.
After her first “strike,” Ms. Briggs was terrified of calling the police. She did not want to do anything to risk losing her home. So even when her now ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, she did not call. And later, when he stabbed her in the neck, she was still too afraid to reach out. But both times, someone else did call the police. Based on these “strikes,” the city pressured her landlord to evict. After a housing court refused to order an eviction, the city said it planned to condemn the property and forcibly remove Ms. Briggs from her home.
Sure, it’s “domestic assault.” It’s still assault, just as if some random guy beat her up — except worse! If the cops told her, “Listen, he has to go and we will make sure he does,” that might be understandable. But no, just get out and try not to bleed on anything.
Unfortunately, neighbors that are afraid to call the cops are no better to have around than neighbors that violate the law. If you agree with the ACLU that “Effective law enforcement depends on strong relationships between police and members of the community,” you might consider sending them a couple bucks.
In closing: overdose; problem solving; on real estate, education, and commuting; parking; 15 out of 16 of us lost net worth between 2009 and 2001 (that’s after the real estate bubble popped, for those of you paying attention); one soda a day keeps insulin astray (ok, I strained to make that work); and an internet necessity.