Civil Liberties

"Montgomery's New Civil Rights Struggle": Racially Charged Eminent Domain Abuse


The above is from a Fox affiliate. Here's snippets from a Liveshot blog:

In 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus and forever changed the course of history. Her very public struggle for equality began at a bus stop outside Columbia Court apartments in Montgomery, Alabama.

"It is a very sad situation, it is quite ironic, that this is the place, this is the city where the civil rights movement began in 1955, a very assertive civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King. Yet you have the civil rights of minorities being violated here in a new kind of way, on, I think, a massive scale," said David Beito, chair of the Alabama advisory board to the US Commission on Civil Rights.

Residents—mostly African-American — accuse the city of Montgomery of taking their property without just compensation. Using the city's blight ordinance, Montgomery is condemning properties, demolishing them, and even billing the property owners for the demolition costs.

"We have good evidence that these homes are not in fact blighted, that is the pretext that they are blighted and that is why they are being demolished," Beito said. "Property owners are losing their land and I think that there is good reason to believe it often ends up in the hands of wealthy developers. It's eminent domain on steroids."…

The Alabama Advisory Board found in favor of the property owners, recommending that the full U.S. Civil Rights Commission investigate any violations by the city. No one from the city appeared before the board.

Beito says there is evidence the city of Montgomery is targeting black homeowners for the benefit of private developers.

Read more.

Beito, a University of Alabama historian, has written for Reason and we've covered this specific case. Links here.