A Sign Of Another Time: ‘For Whites Only’

Mike

Burkett, West Valley View (AZ), Jul. 14

An official with the Arizona Attorney

General’s Office said her department hadn’t encountered

such a sight in 50 years.

The director of the federal Housing and Urban Development’s

Phoenix field office said, “We’ve never seen anything

like it. I’m amazed, just amazed.”

Both were reacting to a pair of signs placed in front of an upscale

Waddell .

The first reads: “For sale by owner.”

The second reads: “4 whites only.”

The owner of the did not return repeated telephone calls. But

his sign is getting him plenty of attention.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which enforces the federal

Fair Housing Act and other related statutes, dispatched a photographer

to take pictures of the Monday afternoon, according to Ann

Woodley, litigation sections chief of the Civil Rights Division.

And Rebecca Flanagan, director of the HUD Phoenix field office,

told the West Valley View, “This is blatantly illegal under

the Fair Housing Law. HUD will pursue once a complaint is filed.

We . . . will be in touch with local Fair Housing agencies, Arizona

Attorney General and the Phoenix Fair Housing Center.”

But first, as Flanagan said, a complaint from a neighbor or passerby

must be filed. Until then, neither the Attorney General’s Office

nor HUD can do anything.

As of midday Tuesday, however, no complaint had been filed.

A sign of another time

Ironically, July 2004 marks the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights

Act of 1964, the nation’s most comprehensive civil rights law.

The Fair Housing Act, which was added to the Civil Rights Act in

1968, was designed to eliminate discrimination in housing based

upon an individual’s race, color, religion or national origin.

The Act was amended in 1974 to prohibit discrimination based on

sex, and amended again in 1988 to include the prohibition of discrimination

based on handicap or familial status.

In Arizona, according to state law,

“A person may not refuse to sell or rent after a bona fide

offer has been made or refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental

of or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to any person

because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national

origin.”

The statute further states that “A person may not discriminate

against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale

or rental of a dwelling, or in providing services or facilities

in connection with the sale or rental, because of race, color, religion,

sex, familial status or national origin.”

But before either of these laws can be enforced, a complaint must

be filed by someone who is offended, someone who believes such discrimination

isn’t right, someone who feels discriminated against.

That hasn’t happened.

“I haven’t seen the sign, but I’ve heard about it,”

said Donald Miller, who lives down the street from the . “It

sounds like he might be a little prejudiced. But it doesn’t

bother me.”

“I think it’s stupid,” said another neighbor, Annie

Bosley. “This is 2004, not the 1960s. But it’s his house.

We can’t tell him not to.”

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