Evicting the innocent-The One Strike Policy
The fascist dictates of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the notorious
ONE STRIKE POLICY is Constitutional.
Evicting the innocent-The One Strike Policy
By Lynda Carson 4/13/02
Published on the SF.IndyMedia Center...Click below for the story...
Oakland, Ca-During a blitz of nation wide media scrutiny, the spotlight focused upon the Oakland Housing Authority and its attempt to evict four elderly innocent renters from their Public Housing rental units over the notorious one strike policy.
On Tuesday March 26, 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of HUD's one strike policy which leads to absurd results such as the eviction of innocent renters from Public Housing. In its zeal to further the cause of the war on drugs, an 8-0 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the Oakland Housing Authority had legal grounds to evict innocent renters for alleged drug related crimes they had not participated in nor had any knowledge of.
Leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the one strike policy was unconstitutional. It did not take long for Attorney General, John Ashcroft, to decide to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, and on Thursday May 24th, 2001, the Bush Administrations Justice Department appealed the January 2001, 7-4 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco that struck down the one strike policy in the case Rucker Vs Davis 98-00781.
The war on drugs is being used to gain further leverage against the poor. The masterminds of this insidious policy to evict the innocent from public housing rental units have had their field day in the U.S. Supreme Court, and now have absolute power to terrorize low-income renters of subsidized rental housing with the threat of eviction. While sipping their champagne, the wealthy Land Barons of Wall Street plunder the worlds resources by any means necessary. Meanwhile, the low-income renters of Public Housing are under attack by extremists who insist that Congress has granted them unlimited power to evict the innocent, and make them homeless.
Four such elderly renters under attack who reside in Oakland fought a ferocious battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their legal support team spent thousands of hours doing research to prepare for the supreme battle fought in Washington D.C., and those skirmishes along the way. A contingent of 32 people set off on the journey to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the Public Housing renters from the zealots advocating for the right to evict the innocents, and many of them payed their own way including airfare and hotel bills. For many, it took up to six days in Washington D.C., before the dust had settled and they finally made their way back home to the Bay Area. Twenty five of the thirty two member contingent were still in D.C. for an after ruling lunch break, and it
will be a moment for them to remember. The Eviction Defense Center, with Bill Simpich leading the charge, led this valiant group of volunteers for the cause to the front lines of the war on drugs being fought in the Public Housing Sector across the nation. It was Anne Omura, the Director of the Eviction Defense Center, who kept a cool head to keep everything on track to defend low-income Oakland renters from evictions while the massive undertaking was taking place all around her for the upcoming battle to be fought in the U.S. Supreme Court.
For now the Oakland Housing Authority appears to be trying its best to get out from under all of the bad press it has received over its attempt to evict the innocents, and has stated that three of the four renters may remain in their housing, for now. But it also appears that the eviction process may continue in its attempt to dump 78 year old disabled Herman Walker onto the streets. The OHA says that it is still reviewing the case, and claim that the occupancy of the 78 year old wheelchair bound Mr. Walker in one of their downtown properties continues to pose a threat to the other renters in the building. Sources say that Mr. Walker is under surveillance, and that the OHA may fear that they have to pick up the legal tab if Mr. Walker overturns his eviction. According to Anne Omura of the Eviction Defense Center, she states that Mr. Walker cannot be evicted because of a claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and that the eviction process is frozen in place until the case returns to the Federal District Court. The disability argument will then be made in the Federal District Court, and if a ruling favors Mr. Walker, the OHA may be liable to pick up the tab for his attorney fees.
One might think that these four elderly renters must be some real desperados for the Oakland Housing Authority to spend such a fortune in legal bills to push this one strike policy all the way into the heart of the U.S. Supreme Court. Or, one might consider that there may be more going on than what meets the eye.
The four evictees are all elderly citizens who have not been charged with any criminal activities before the eviction proceedings took place. All four are African Americans. They have resided in Public Housing for many years, and three of them are elderly women caring for extended families of children and grandchildren. Whatever the hype may be, it does not appear that these four elderly citizens are a threat to anyone, nor do they appear to be desperados who should have been dragged kicking and screaming all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court because they are a threat to the United States of America.
Herman Walker faces eviction because his caretaker allegedly got caught with a crack pipe. Pearlie Rucker faced eviction proceedings because her daughter allegedly was found to be in possession of some crack cocaine three blocks away from Ms. Ruckers apartment building. Willie Lee, and Barbara Hill faced eviction proceedings because their grandchildren allegedly were found to be in possession of marijuana in the parking lot of the housing complex. These four innocent victims dragged before the U.S. Supreme Court, faced eviction as the result of the war on drugs. Deprived of their rights to defend theirselves from unjust evictions, these innocent tenants along with millions of others may now be evicted because of who they know instead of what they have done. This is the madness of some of the absurd results that already are taking place because of the erosion of individual rights and the collateral damage being inflicted upon the population due to the war on drugs. This one strike policy ruling immediately affects the well being of over 3 million renters across the nation, and theres no telling what the disastrous results may be in the near or far distant future for any others that may be caught up into the schemes of those weilding absolute power to evict the innocent.
The one strike policy was adopted by HUD in 1991. Implementation of the one strike policy reveals that HUD is working with DOJ and the FBI, while actively seeking fULL cooperation of Local Judges and law enforcement officials to implement or augment the new policy. Sources say, HUD is also working with the FBI to target the 122 largest PHAs (Public Housing Authorities) for full implementation of its procedures for the one strike policy. In essence, PHAs gain access to criminal records through the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) databases, which allows them to cross reference databanks and compare them with the clients listed on their own databases. The NCIC database is managed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Despite all of this technology and access to databases, sources say that the PHAs really depend upon snitches to keep them informed as to who is doing what in the Housing Projects. The blatant unfairness of the one strike policy reers its ugly head by the mere fact that it only applies to renters and not to the landlords who may provide housing for the subsidized Section 8 Renters affected by the one strike policy ruling.
Strategies to defend innocent renters from the draconian absurd results of the one strike policy are being considered and all options are presently on the table. The first option available would be to organize public housing renters into a massive force that would refuse to sign the annual lease utilized by the PHAs to implement the one strike policy. According to local attorney John Murcko, who was part of the legal team to defend the innocent renters from eviction, says that many public housing renters in Los Angeles refused to sign the annual lease being used to threaten them with the one strike policy. Mr. Murcko believes that evictions are costly when fought by the renters, and that the budgets of local PHAs do not provide enough dollars for them to hire enough attorneys to evict large masses of people at the same time. Furthermore, Mr. Murcko states that the PHAs are not required to enforce the one strike policy but were offered extra money alloted by HUD as an incentive if they enforced it. Mr. Murcko goes on to state that since 911, the Bush Administration has dried up those funds and shifted them into the war effort, leaving the OHA with less monetary incentive to evict. To devise strategies to fight the one strike policy, it may help to clarify the situation for those unfamiliar as to how it is defined or implemented.
Allegedly, the one strike policy in public housing, was implemented to focus upon activities that threaten the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other tenants. By definition, and I quote; Section 6(l) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (1937 Act), as amended by the Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act of 1996 (Extension Act), requires PHAs to utilize leases that provide that "any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other tenants, or any drug-related criminal activity on or off of the premises, engaged in by a public housing tenant, any member of the tenant's household, or any guest or other person under the tenant's control, shall be cause for termination of tenancy."
The tragic results of the full implementation of the one strike policy have been the creation of a police state like atmosphere for the residents of pubilc housing who may be virtually under surveillance at all times. The overzealous governmental entities running amuck to evict innocent renters of public housing by misuse of the one strike policy have misinterpreted the intent of Congress's actions to create a framework of anti-drug legislation. The insidious aspects of the policy, results in elderly people being evicted because of who they know rather than what they may have done. Local attorney Bill Simpich believes that to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the one strike policy, Congress needs to rewrite the anti-drug law legislation in such a way that innocent victims in public housing may defend theirselves from those governmental entities who believe that they have the absolute power to evict the innocent.
As bleak as it may appear for some renters, hope is alive and well. During a recent interview, Mr. Simpich explained how local anti-eviction activists have come up with a plan to help renters seek protection from evictions by getting under the umbrella of the retaliation laws that may be used to shield them for extended periods of time during their tenancy. He described a plan to promote the State Law known as the Repair and Deduct Remedy, and its an ambitious program meant to educate renters on a massive scale as to how they may implement it. The anti-eviction activists provide a panel of free attorneys for advice or legal representation if needed to those that follow through and use the Repair And Deduct Self-Help Informational Packet that they have created. To obtain this Info Packet, people are being urged to call (800) 806-8111 for details. Local activists are very excited by this approach to organize the renters.
In a discussion with Ira Jacobowitz, who spent six days in Washington D.C. as part of the contingent to defend innocent renters from the one strike policy, he states that he was not surprised by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. He says; our case was really about the fundamental fairness needed to protect all of the people in this country whether they are rich or poor, and it was an unfortunate decision against the poor. The decision was flat out wrong, says Mr. Jacobowitz. If it looks wrong, feels wrong, smells wrong, its wrong he says with out right conviction in his beliefs. This Supreme Court has no consideration for the poor, and its all about power Mr. Jacobowitz went on to say.
The Supreme Court must feel that they are the last word and will tell the whole world what is the law, says Mr. Jacobowitz. They seized the power to do anything they want to complete the total takover of the worlds resources for the super rich. The left is to weak to fight back he says. As an example, he pointed out that many liberals waited in silence until after the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court was made to uphold the constitutionality of the one strike policy before they spoke out against it. Rather than using their voices to help persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to make the right decision, many on the left waited until they felt it was safe to speak up, and by then the wrong decision was already made, and it was too late. Mr. Jacobowitz believes that there is no change in the system that he can foresee to be coming along to make things right, but says that if a change in the U.S. Code to establish a defense to protect the innocent in this country from the abuse of the rich and powerful is ever enacted, it would go a long way to bring an end to the injustice being done.
The one strike policy has become the law of the land, and it is up to the people of the United States to rise up in rebellion against this most unjust law. Someday, it just might be your grandmother being tossed out onto the streets because of who she knows rather than what she may have done.
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