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Author: Subject: Ohio Town Denies Drinking Water to Black Citizens

Zen Peach





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  posted on 7/14/2008 at 11:28 AM
Hard to believe something like this happened in a city outside the South.


quote:
Zanesville area residents awarded $11M in water suit
Jury: Racism led to lack of service
ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBUS - Residents of a mostly black east central Ohio neighborhood that went almost 50 years without public water were awarded nearly $11 million yesterday by a federal jury that agreed they were denied service because of their race.

Plaintiff Cynthia Hale Hairston, 47, who spent decades on rural Coal Run Road near Zanesville with her parents and grandparents wept quietly as U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley read name after name of victorious plaintiff.

Families there either dug wells, hauled water for cisterns, or collected rain water so they could drink, cook, and bathe.

After a seven-week trial, the jury found the city of Zanesville, Muskingum County, and the East Muskingum Water Authority violated state and federal civil rights laws when in failing to provide water services to the residents. All had denied discrimination.

Reed Colfax, one of the lead lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said 25 to 30 families live in the Coal Run neighborhood about five miles southeast of Zanesville.

The city of about 25,000 on the edge of the state's Appalachian region. One in every five families is below the federal poverty level.

Each of the 67 plaintiffs was awarded between $15,000 to $300,000, depending on how long they had lived in the neighborhood.

The money was intended to cover both their monetary losses and their pain and suffering between 1956, when water lines were first laid in the area, and 2003, when Coal Run got public water.

Mr. Colfax described the verdict as unique among civil rights cases nationally, both in the nature of the ruling and the size of the award.

Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers said: "This decision speaks firmly about the importance of treating citizens with equal respect, regardless of race," she said.

Zanesville attorney Michael Valentine told Judge Marbley he intended to appeal.

Attorney Mark Landes, who represented the county and water district, called the verdict disappointing. He said jurors were not allowed to hear defendants' testimony that neighborhood residents were offered water service years ago and refused it.

Mr. Colfax said he was unaware of any evidence that was excluded from the trial.

The water authority must pay 55 percent of the damages, while the county owes 25 percent, and the city owes 20 percent, Mr. Colfax said.

"This was a case that was started and fired by out-of-town lawyers who saw an opportunity for a cash settlement," Mr. Landes said.

The plaintiffs' attorneys will receive a separate amount to be decided by a judge at a later date, Mr. Colfax said.

The case was filed in 2003 after the Ohio Civil Rights Commission concluded that the residents were victims of discrimination.

The plaintiffs' attorneys argued that the decision not to pipe water to the plaintiffs was racially motivated, painting a picture of a community with a history of segregation. Black residents of Coal Run Road were denied water over the years while nearby white neighbors were provided it, they said.

Mr. Landes countered that about half of Muskingum County residents are not tied into the public water system even today.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/14/2008 at 11:37 AM
Wow. Thats amazing. Glad they won.

 

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Missing- 245 spines. If found, please send one to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and the rest to the Capitol building care of the Democratic Party.

 

Zen Peach



Karma:
Posts: 19435
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Registered: 6/9/2002
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  posted on 7/14/2008 at 12:16 PM
quote:
Mr. Landes countered that about half of Muskingum County residents are not tied into the public water system even today.


If racism was the reason for the lack of a city water hookup, then the ruling is a right one. However, there are neighborhoods within my county that don't have city water going to the houses, and they be white folk. And, a lot of the residents don't necessarily want it because the home owner is mandated to spend over $20,000 each to get water to their house whether they want it or not. My best friend's house outside of Cincinnati runs on a cistern and they haul water from the aquifer from a pay-as-you-go water pump down the road outside of Harrison, Ohio. You bring your water tank up on the back of your pickup truck and get 450 gallons of clean underground well water for 75 cents. Again, if this section of 25 families outside of Zanesville, I was just up that way in the Appalachian part of eastern Ohio, were ignored because of racism, then the county and city should pay. If not and if it is true that they were offered water in the past and refused it, then they just found a way to get it paid for for free.

DH

 

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Zen Peach



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Posts: 18593
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Registered: 11/20/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 7/14/2008 at 01:47 PM
quote:
Hard to believe something like this happened in a city outside the South.
Hard to believe that something like this happens period.

 

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"Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will buy you a bottle of wine, and we'll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down..."

 
 


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