CRT Biweekly Newsletter March 11 2016

  • We announced the launch of a new interagency community engagement initiative designed to promote religious freedom, challenge religious discrimination and enhance enforcement of religion-based hate crimes.  The Civil Rights Division, in partnership with other federal agencies, will host a series of community roundtables across the country that focus on protecting people and places of worship from religion-based hate crimes; combating religious discrimination, including bullying, in education and employment; and addressing unlawful barriers that interfere with the construction of places of worship.
  • In her remarks at the first interagency roundtable in Newark, New Jersey, head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta emphasized the importance of schools as places “where our children feel safe and supported … and places where they learn that America guarantees freedom, justice and opportunity for all people – regardless of what you look like, where you come from or which religion you observe.” 
  • An Iberia Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff and Lieutenant Colonel were charged with civil rights violations arising out of the beatings of five pre-trial detainees at the Iberia Parish Jail (IPJ) in April 2011.
  • The owners and developers of 71 multi-family housing complexes in four states with more than 2,500 ground-floor units have agreed to pay $350,000 to settle claims that they violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by building apartment complexes that were inaccessible to persons with disabilities.  As part of the settlement, the companies also agreed to make substantial retrofits to remove accessibility barriers. 
  • A federal jury in Phoenix returned a verdict finding that the towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and their joint water company systematically discriminated against individuals who are not members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) in the provision of housing, utility and policing services, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  Prior to the jury verdict, the parties reached an agreement that the defendants will pay $1.6 million to resolve the monetary claim under the Fair Housing Act.  The jury also issued an advisory verdict on the Department of Justice’s claims under Section 14141 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
  • The City of Fort Worth, Texas, agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that Forth Worth discriminated against persons with disabilities when it refused to allow a group home for individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction to operate in a single family residential zone in the city.
  • A man from Allentown, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for running a sex trafficking operation.
  • A former police officer with the Alcorn State University (ASU) Police Department in Lorman, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the civil rights of an arrestee.
  •  A former chief deputy and jail administrator with the Stone County Sheriff’s Office in Mountain View, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a prisoner when he instructed two other inmates to beat that prisoner and then arranged for the beating to occur. 
  • The Division filed a lawsuit alleging that the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office in Richmond, Virginia, fired a former deputy sheriff after failing to reassign her to a vacant position for which she was qualified, in violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The employee, who had worked as a deputy for approximately 10 years, asked to be reassigned to an available civilian position after a heart condition rendered her unable to continue as a deputy sheriff.
  • A Minnesota man pleaded guilty to making telephonic threats to two clinics that provide reproductive health services in Minneapolis.
  • A federal judge ordered four defendants to pay $840,000 in restitution in a Jackson, Mississippi, hate crime case involving the death of James Craig Anderson.
  • In a settlement agreement announced last week, the owner and operator of Mere’s Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Park in North Fort Myers, Florida, agreed to pay $40,000 to resolve allegations that he discriminated against African Americans in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
  • The remaining indicted defendant in a human-trafficking ring pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to lure Guatemalan minors and adults into the United States on false pretenses, then coercing their labor at egg farms in Ohio.

Twitter: @CivilRightsAAG | @CivilRights

Updated December 28, 2016

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