You want to know why I moved from Cincinnati over 30 years ago? Because...believe it or not...this kind of racial crap still goes on. Do you believe people still act like this?
landlord who claimed a black girl's hair products clouded an apartment
complex's swimming pool discriminated against the child by posting a
poolside "White Only" sign, an Ohio civil rights panel said Thursday in
upholding a previous finding.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission voted 4-0 against reconsidering its finding from last fall. There was no discussion.
The group found on Sept. 29 that Jamie Hein,
who is white, violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign at
a pool at the duplex where the teenage girl was visiting her parents.
parents filed a discrimination charge with the commission and moved out
of the duplex in the racially diverse city to "avoid subjecting their
family to further humiliating treatment," the commission said in a
release announcing its finding.
investigation revealed that Hein in May posted on the gated entrance to
the pool an iron sign that stated "Public Swimming Pool, White Only,"
the commission statement said.
witnesses confirmed that the sign was posted, and the landlord
indicated that she posted it because the girl used chemicals in her hair
that would make the pool "cloudy," according to the commission.
told the commission she received the sign from a friend, and Ronnell
Tomlinson, the commission's housing enforcement director, said at
Thursday's hearing it was an antique. The sign says "Selma, Ala.," at
the bottom, followed by the date "14 July 31."
girl's father, Michael Gunn, in brief comments Thursday, described his
shock last spring when venturing out for a lunch break by the pool.
initial reaction to seeing the sign was of shock, disgust and outrage,"
Gunn said. He also told the commission that his daughter was saddened
months later to learn the reason they moved from the apartment complex
"was in a way related to the color of her skin." Gunn declined to speak
attorney, who informed the commission by email Wednesday that Hein would
not attend the hearing, did not return phone and email messages
Wednesday and Thursday from The Associated Press. A recording on
Thursday said Hein's voicemail was full and could not accept messages.
"I was trying to protect my assets," she told the commission's housing enforcement director in a Sept. 27 interview.
discrimination has particular resonance in Cincinnati, whose population
is 45 percent black, far higher than the rest of Ohio, which is about
12 percent black. Surrounding Hamilton County is 26 percent black.
was the scene of race riots in April 2001 when police and demonstrators
clashed in a blighted neighborhood following the shooting of a black
suspect by police.
commission's statement said that its investigation concluded that the
posting of such a sign "restricts the social interaction between
Caucasians and African-Americans and reinforces discriminatory actions
aimed at oppressing people of color."
It still would be possible for the parties to reach a settlement overseen by the commission before any legal action is taken.
those discussions don't bear fruit, the commission would issue a formal
complaint and refer the matter to the Ohio attorney general's office,
which would represent the commission's findings before an administrative
law judge. That judge would determine any penalties, which could
include a cease-and-desist order and punitive damages.
Any decision by the administrative judge could be appealed to Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnati.