ACLU Sues Norristown Over Domestic Violence Evictions

The ACLU today said it is suing the city of Norristown, whose cops last year reportedly threatened to have a resident evicted by her landlord after she reported domestic violence accusations against her boyfriend a third time. “You are on three strikes,” the officers reportedly told the woman. “We’re gonna have your landlord evict you.”

Sandra Park of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project writes:

Yes, that’s right.  The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence.  Under Norristown’s “disorderly behavior ordinance,” the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within a four-month period.  The ordinance specifically includes “domestic disturbances” as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.

In response, the national ACLU, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the law firm Pepper Hamilton filed suit challenging the ordinance, saying it violates tenants’ First Amendment rights to petition their government. Women shouldn’t be punished with the loss of their home if they choose to escape violence, the suit says. “Norristown reports that domestic violence victims make up 20 percent of its homeless population.  In order to reduce domestic violence and homelessness, Norristown should repeal the ordinance, and keep it off the books for good.”