MCCRORY, Ark. (Arkansas Times) — Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights organization, announced today a final settlement of its lawsuit against the city of McCrory over an ordinance that attempted to banish from the city trailers worth less than $7,500.
The lawsuit argued that the ordinance amounted to banning people too poor to afford a more expensive home.
The suit was filed on behalf of McCrory residents David Watlington and Lindsey Hollaway after adoption of the ordinance in the fall of 2016. Their trailer was worth about $1,500 and the couple was ordered to leave the city. The couple makes about $13,000 a year, well below the federal poverty line.
Back in January, KARK’s Shannon Miller profiled the issue and spoke to both sides of this debate.
“This kind of wealth-based banishment scheme is unconscionable discrimination,” said Phil Telfeyan, Executive Director of Equal Justice Under Law. “McCrory, and all of our communities, should invest in residents rather than criminalize poverty.”
The city repealed the ordinance. In the settlement, the city obtained a court order eliminating all fines that had been assessed against Watlington and also provided a monetary settlement in return for dismissal of the suit. McCrory will have to pay about $20,000 in settlement, for attorney fees , fine forgiveness and other costs.
“This settlement is a victory for Lindsey, David, and impoverished people everywhere,” added Telfeyan. “No one should fear being chased out of their hometown simply because they are too poor to afford a more expensive residence. At a time when civil rights feel under attack in this nation, this settlement is a victory for everyone who values individual dignity.”