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Off-site news items.

High Court to decide states' duty to house people with mental disabilities

December 15, 1998
The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide whether some mentally disabled people must be given a chance at being placed in group homes or other community-based programs rather than in institutions.
     Lower courts had said that Georgia had to provide that opportunity, a requirement that 22 other states contended would have "catastrophic effects" on their treasuries.

Noted judge, lawyer Higginbotham dead at 70

December 15, 1998
A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., a civil rights defender who was one of the country's most prominent and influential black judges, has died. He was 70.
     Higginbotham, of Newton, suffered several strokes over the weekend before he died at Massachusetts General Hospital on Monday.
     Throughout his life, as a lawyer, judge and scholar, Higginbotham was known as a passionate advocate of civil rights. He received the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1995.
     The late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall called him ``a great lawyer and a very great judge.'' 

Family of racial harasser evicted from housing

December 12, 1998
A judge has allowed the Boston Housing Authority to evict a white family whose teen-age boy is accused of terrorizing his Hispanic neighbors.
     Margaret Donovan and a granddaughter have until February 1 to leave her Charlestown apartment, Housing Court Judge E. George Daher ruled. Her 17-year-old grandson, Vincent, already has been evicted because of the allegations against him.
     ``To attack other people because of their color, it's an intolerable situation,'' the judge said. 

Chicago groups file steering, blockbusting suits

December 10, 1998
Lawsuits were filed Wednesday against two real estate companies, alleging that panic peddling and racial steering is still alive on the Southwest Side.
     The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court by the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities and the Greater Ashburn Planning Association against Quality Realty Inc., 4104 S. Archer, and Rossi Realty Inc., 8511 S. Pulaski.
     Both companies are charged with violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by steering black and white home buyers away from integrated neighborhoods and by using scare tactics to pressure white homeowners to sell. 

Home loans pricier for blacks, NCRC says

November 25, 1998
While fairness in mortgage lending improved in recent years, much new lending to blacks appears to come from "subprime" home loans with higher interest rates, a private group says.
     Officials of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, in releasing a study Tuesday, said they were concerned that after a few years of progress starting in 1994, the gap between minorities and whites being denied home mortgages widened again in 1996-97.
     The study was based on data submitted to the federal government by banks, thrifts and mortgage companies. It is consistent with a government survey issued last summer showing that financial institutions are turning down blacks, Hispanics and American Indians for home mortgage loans more often than whites, no matter what their income. 

Mortgages hard to get on reservations

November 25, 1998
Chester Carl seemed the ideal candidate for a conventional home mortgage. He owned three thriving small businesses -- a silk-screen printing operation, a television satellite dish company and a shop that manufactured camper shells for pickup trucks -- and he had an excellent credit rating along with a reputation as a solid family man.
     But when he decided to build his dream house in 1982 -- and again 10 years later when he started work on another house -- he did not even bother applying to a bank for a home loan. Instead, he worked on the houses piecemeal, building room by room from check to check as he became able to buy the materials and pay for the labor.
     The reason: Carl is an American Indian and his houses are on the sprawling Navajo reservation that straddles eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. There, as is the case on most of the nation's approximately 550 Indian reservations, obtaining a conventional home loan -- or even a federally backed mortgage -- is easier said than done.  

"Eyes on the Prize" filmmaker Hampton dies

November 24, 1998
Henry Hampton, 58, who made "Eyes on the Prize," the acclaimed television series about the civil rights movement, died November 22 at a hospital here. He had lung cancer.
     Mr. Hampton first envisioned what would become his masterpiece as he participated in a civil rights march in Selma, Ala., in 1965.
     "A hundred civil rights stories had been told, but it was always black people being saved by whites," he said in a 1993 interview. "In 'Eyes,' we brought our people up in history." 

Coretta Scott King's father dies

November 24, 1998
Coretta Scott King's father, Obie Scott, a small-town storeowner who provided free groceries to the poor and worked into his 90s, has died of respiratory failure. He was 99.
     Scott, who died Sunday, lived in the small central Alabama town ofMarion, where he owned a store and hauled pulpwood, among other things. He and his late wife, Bernice, raised three children.

Eddie Bauer settles race discrimination suit

November 24, 1998
The Eddie Bauer Inc. clothing company has dropped its appeal of a $1 million federal jury award to three young black men in connection with their treatment during an alleged shoplifting incident, and settled their case for an undisclosed sum, attorneys for both sides said yesterday.
     The racially charged lawsuit stemmed from an October 20, 1995, incident in which Alonzo Jackson, 16 at the time, was confronted by Robert Sheehan, an off-duty Prince George's County police detective working as a security guard at an Eddie Bauer warehouse sale in Fort Washington.
     During the five-day trial last fall in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Jackson testified that he was wearing an Eddie Bauer shirt he had bought at the warehouse the previous day. Jackson and two other witnesses testified that Sheehan made him remove the green-plaid shirt when he couldn't produce a receipt on the spot. Jackson later returned with a receipt showing that he had purchased two items at the store and was given the shirt back, according to testimony. 

Black farmers consider $125M settlement

November 21, 1998
Black farmers said they are considering a deal of at least $125 million to settle their discrimination lawsuit against the Agriculture Department.
     The settlement would give each of the 1,000 plaintiffs about $50,000 and resolve any outstanding debt with the government. The average plaintiff's debt is estimated at $75,000 to $100,000.
     The lawsuit -- claiming discrimination through denial of farm loans, crop subsidies and other benefits -- was filed last year, shortly after the Agriculture Department admitted its own process of resolving discrimination complaints had been in disarray and caused a huge backlog.
     Plaintiffs won a significant victory last month when a judge agreed to certify them as a class. A trial has been scheduled for February 1.


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