‘Caucasian’ Clause Causes Myers Park Uproar

Ely Portillo, Charlotte Observer, December 15, 2009

The state and local NAACP on Monday blasted the Myers Park Homeowners Association for a discriminatory deed restriction published on its Web site.

The dispute could end up in court if the two sides don’t reach some sort of agreement–possibly including a financial payment that some estimate could reach $50,000–within 30 days.

The NAACP filed a complaint in 2007 against the association for posting a sample deed that included a decades-old clause specifying that “people of the Caucasian race only” could live in or own a Myers Park house.

The complaint was filed with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, which investigates claims of housing discrimination. Last week, the committee ruled that the Myers Park association was responsible for publishing a discriminatory statement and told the two parties to negotiate a settlement.

Although the deed was removed from the Web site more than a year ago, the NAACP is seeking penalties that could include a financial payment.

{snip}

Ken Davies, an attorney representing the Myers Park Homeowners Association, told WCNC-TV, the Observer’s news partner, that the clause is nearly a century old, is illegal, and has not been enforced.

Davies told WCNC that the NAACP’s demands, which have not been publicly released, are “outrageous.”

The president of the Myers Park Homeowners Association issued a public apology Monday, saying {snip} “We published it solely to alert homeowners about setbacks and other restrictions for modifying their homes,” Pamela May told the Observer. {snip}

The association acknowledged the language posted in the sample deed is offensive, but said it didn’t have the authority to change wording recorded almost 100 years ago.

“To those who read and were offended, we apologize,” her statement said. “The Myers Park Homeowners Association has never attempted to discriminate against anyone.”

The parties have about a month to reach a settlement before additional measures–such as a lawsuit–could be taken. Barber said the NAACP is ready to “go to the mat” on this “Jim Crow activity,” but wouldn’t say exactly what the group is seeking.

An initial settlement proposal sought thousands of dollars in payments to the local NAACP branch as a penalty, according to Barber, but is no longer the proposal being discussed.

However, WCNC says it has learned that the NAACP is seeking financial payments that could reach $50,000.

{snip}

Barber [William Barber, president of the state NAACP] said the issue is bigger than an outdated racist clause in a deed, and that patterns of housing segregation that resulted continue to affect school quality and neighborhoods today.

{snip}

But Stella Adams, a fair housing advocate with the NAACP, {snip} told WCNC [WCNC-TV, the Observer’s news partner] that a study of residences in Myers Park proves that segregation has taken place. She produced pie charts, showing just a small percentage of minorities live in Myers Park, compared to much larger populations elsewhere in the city.

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