FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 1998

CR

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES MONTGOMERY TRAILER PARK OWNER

FOR KEEPING OUT AFRICAN AMERICANS

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today sued the owner of a Montgomery, Alabama trailer park who allegedly steered away prospective African American renters and required white residents to agree not to invite African Americans to the park. Today's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery, accuses David Damron, owner and manager of the Bruner Trailer Park, also known as Court Street Trailer Park, of violating the Federal Fair Housing Act. According to the suit, Damron conditioned white residents' tenancy upon representations that they would not have African-American visitors, harassed and evicted whites who had African-American visitors, and steered African-Americans who inquired about vacancies at Bruner Trailer Park to a predominantly African-American trailer park. Damron also allegedly instructed at least one of his rental agents not to rent to African-Americans. "The conduct alleged today demonstrates that blatant discrimination still exists even 30 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act," stated Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Bill Lann Lee. "No American should be barred from living in the neighborhood of their choice simply because of the color of their skin." The Justice Department became aware of the discrimination after receiving information from the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center. The Center, a Montgomery fair housing organization, was assisting two white tenants who had been evicted from Bruner Trailer Park allegedly because they had African-American visitors. Further evidence of discrimination was obtained from an FBI investigation of the rental practices at the trailer park. "Obvious, overt and completely unacceptable practices of racial discrimination in housing against African Americans, or any other citizens, will not be tolerated by this office," said Redding Pitt, U.S. Attorney in Montgomery. "While great progress in achieving the American dream for all Americans has been made over the past 30 years, it is obvious that continued vigilance and, where necessary, firm enforcement measures may in particular instances be required. This case is one in which such firm action must and will be initiated." The lawsuit seeks an order preventing Damron from engaging in further discriminatory practices and requiring him to pay damages to any persons identified as victims of the discrimination. The complaint also seeks a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest. Under the Fair Housing Act, a court may require a defendant to pay a civil penalty of up to $50,000 for the first violation and $100,000 for a subsequent violation.

Individuals who believe they may have been the victims of housing discrimination at Bruner Trailer Park should call the Housing Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743 or the U.S. Attorney's Office at 334-223-7280. # # #

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