Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Civil rights: Lawsuit accuses Lancaster and Palmdale of targeting blacks and Latinos in housing-aid crackdown - latimes.com

Civil rights: Lawsuit accuses Lancaster and Palmdale of targeting blacks and Latinos in housing-aid crackdown - latimes.com

Elected leaders in Lancaster and Palmdale have waged an "unrelenting war" against low-income blacks and Latinos who receive public assistance in a campaign to drive them out of the historically white Antelope Valley, civil rights lawyers alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit says the crackdown has created a climate of fear among minorities in the Antelope Valley and may have influenced vigilante attacks and hate crimes.

"The level of hostility in these cities as expressed and enforced by authorities is astonishing," said Catherine Lhamon, a lawyer for Public Counsel, the public-interest law firm representing the plaintiffs. Council members in the two cities "have no shame … in expressing their racial hostility."

City leaders defend their actions, saying that they stepped up the inspections in response to public concerns about crime.

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