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HUD settles SF racial covenant case

October 19, 1998
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has reached an agreement with the Lakeside Property Owners Association in San Francisco to remove a covenant in its bylaws that barred non-whites from living in the subdivision.
     The covenant, placed in the bylaws of the Lakeside Property Owners Association in 1939, stated: "No person other than one of the White Caucasian Race shall rent, lease, use or occupy any building or lot in said tract...". The covenant provided an exemption for servants.
HUD uncovered no evidence that the racial restrictions had ever been enforced. However, two residents - Dr. Mark Blank and Yumi Blank -- complained because the restrictions remained in the homeowners' association bylaws, which are given to all residents and potential homebuyers in the subdivision.

Court won't ban "racist" school books

October 19, 1998
A federal appeals court rejected today a black woman's request to remove "Huckleberry Finn" and a William Faulkner story from the required-reading list at her daughter's Arizona high school.
     Courts cannot "ban books or other literary works from school curricula on the basis of their content . . . even when the works are accused of being racist," the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.
     The court allowed the parent, Kathy Monteiro, to sue the Tempe Union High School District for allegedly failing to respond to complaints that white students were harassing blacks with racial slurs and graffiti. But the judges said the school could not be required to remove the books as a way to reduce harassment. 

Courts ponder job discrimination penality

October 16, 1998
Employers who discriminate based on race, religion, national origin or sex violate the law, but federal courts have not agreed how much illegal prejudice should cost the lawbreakers.
     A major bone of contention is which situations should qualify victims of employment discrimination to receive punitive damages, the kind intended to punish and deter wrongdoers. The Supreme Court is being asked to clarify just when such awards can be won.
   Most employees or job applicants who sue over alleged discrimination invoke a federal law known as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
     The law did not provide for punitive damages until Congress amended it in 1991. 

Casper, Wyo., bracing for funeral protest

October 16, 1998
Bracing for potential violence, Wyoming officials have brought out bomb-sniffing dogs and banned protests in hopes of protecting the family of Matthew Shepard on Friday, the day of the slain student's funeral.
     Shepard, 21, died Monday at a Colorado hospital, five days after he was found tied to a fence in near-freezing temperatures outside Laramie. The University of Wyoming student had been pistol-whipped and abandoned.
      Two 21-year-old men have been charged with murder in Shepard's death. Police say their primary motive was robbery, but that Shepard was singled out because he was gay.
      Casper has reportedly received threats of violence from groups and individuals protesting Shepard's homosexuality. In addition, an anti-homosexual Baptist group from Topeka, Kansas, has threatened to demonstrate during Shepard's funeral, scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Ohio center files family discrimination suit

October 15, 1998
The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the owners, operators, managers, and leasing agents of Huber Home Rentals are discriminating on the basis of familial status. The suit, which was filed on October 15, alleges violations of the federal Fair Housing Act. Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Cincinnati, and three individuals, join the Fair Housing Center as Plaintiffs in the action. The individuals are Ms. Toylyn Caldwell, Ms. Michelle Tolson, and Mr. Danny Tolson.

HOME of Richmond suit settles for $480K

October 15, 1998
The owners and managers of a Richmond, Virginia, apartment complex who were accused of refusing to rent to African Americans have agreed to a $480,000 settlement - the largest settlement ever in a rental discrimination case in Virginia, the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced.
     The agreement settling the discrimination complaint, which must be approved by a judge, requires the owners and managers of Wedgewood to pay $480,000 in damages, including: $200,000 to compensate any persons identified as victims of the alleged discrimination; $195,000 to Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. of Richmond (HOME), a fair housing group funded by HUD that tested the apartment complex for housing discrimination; $45,000 to compensate two African Americans who filed complaints; and $40,000 in civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury.

D.C. police sued over treatment of deaf suspects

October 14, 1998
An advocacy group for the deaf filed a lawsuit in federal court yesterday against the District's police department, contending that officials routinely have failed to provide sign language interpreters to deaf crime suspects and witnesses.
     The lawsuit cited the experience of Vernon Shorter, a 36-year-old clerk with the Federal Election Commission. Shorter, who is deaf, was arrested as a burglary suspect last year and was held for three days before the case was dropped. According to the suit, D.C. police made no effort to communicate with him or to ensure that he understood the charges.
     Shorter, who joined in the lawsuit filed by the Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington, contends that he could have cleared up a misunderstanding and been released quickly if police had used an interpreter. 

Supreme Court lets Cincinatti law stand

October 13, 1998
The Supreme Court allowed Cincinnati to deny homosexuals specific protection from discrimination Tuesday, an order likely to create confusion over government policies on gay rights.
     The action came just two years after the justices struck down as unconstitutional a similar measure in Colorado. Unlike the 1996 ruling, Tuesday's action set no national precedent but caused outrage just the same.
     ``The Supreme Court has given up. That's horrible,'' said Alphonse Gerhardstein, who represented opponents to the Cincinnati city charter amendment. The voter-approved measure bans policies or ordinances that give homosexuals claims for legal protection from discrimination -- in housing, employment or otherwise -- based on their sexual orientation. It also bars ``any claim of minority or protected status, quota preference or other preferential treatment.'' 

Student dies after brutal anti-gay beating

October 12, 1998
A gay University of Wyoming student died Monday, five days after he was found pistol-whipped and lashed to a fence post in an attack denounced nationwide as a hate crime.
     Matthew Shepard, 21, died while on life support, said the head of Poudre Valley Hospital, Rulon Stacey. Shepard had been in a coma since bicyclists found him tethered to the post in near-freezing temperatures outside Laramie, Wyo., on Wednesday.
     Police have said robbery was the primary motive for the attack. But gay rights groups and others assailed the beating and called on Wyoming legislators to adopt laws to deter crimes against homosexuals. 

Cop fired for riding racist float

October 10, 1998
Police Commisssioner Howard Safir followed through on his threat Saturday to fire a police officer for riding on a racist Labor Day parade float in Queens.
     ``It is my considered decision that Police Officer Joseph Locurto does not deserve to wear the shield of a New York Police Officer and should, in fact, be dismissed,'' Safir said in a statement issued early Saturday afternoon.
     The city suspended Locurto and two firefighters without pay on September 11 after they were identified as being among the nine people on a Labor Day parade float in Broad Channel, a predominantly white community in an isolated area of southern Queens.
     The men wore blackface and Afro-style wigs, threw watermelon and fried chicken and mocked the bias murder of a black man in Texas, all under the banner ``Black to the Future 2098.'' 


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