I read with much interest Will Moredock’s view on the Gadsden Green matter (“Fighting the Wrong Battle,” Dec. 12). I was somewhat surprised by the inaccuracies in his story as he is usually quite good at verifying the facts.
First, the incident involving the six boys (ages 13-16) occurred at approximately 8 p.m., not “late at night” as Will wrote. As it was still daylight savings time, the incident occurred during the daylight.
Second, the Gadsden Green families signed City of Charleston Housing Authority leases; they are not tenants of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
Third, the Housing Authority recommended eviction because of the alleged acts of the six boys. The Housing Authority hearing officer has concurred with the staff recommendation. There has been no appeal to “have been turned down by HUD.” As of this moment, the Housing Authority has not sought eviction through the courts as required by law.
Fourth, the lease speaks for itself. I would be happy to show you one. The lease language is entirely dissimilar from Moredock’s recitation. Article 5, Section F states “the residents shall not: (f) permit any member of the household … to engage in any violent or drug related activity on or off the premises.” Violating this provision may subject a resident or member of the household to eviction. The lease language does not speak to the eviction of an entire household, including innocent children. Is it Moredock’s position that the mothers of the six boys involved “permitted” the isolated instance of poor judgment?
Fifth, in light of the plain language of the lease, federal law, and the U.S. Constitution, we are all innocent until proven guilty whether we be rich or poor, black or white. There is no legal justification to evict any person other than the six boys who engaged in inappropriate behavior if they are convicted of such behavior.
Sixth, Moredock makes conclusory, sweeping allegations about the mothers of the six children as being, in essence, poor mothers. Does Moredock know their children include band members, ROTC members, honor roll students and children involved in athletics?
Simply stated, Moredock’s view is unsubstantiated and factually inaccurate. I would hope in the future that if he is going to make conclusory accusations he at least read the police reports, leases, law or other relevant documents before he voices his opinion.
John F. Martin
Martin Law Firm
Will Moredock responds:
My source for the column was The Post and Courier and remarks made by Charleston City Councilman Wendell Gilliard at the rally at Nichols Chapel AME Church on Dec. 8.
I was clearly in error in reporting the arrest of the teenagers as taking place late at night. I should have said early at night, but it was clearly night since the sun had set before 7 p.m. and the arrests occurred at approximately 8 p.m.
In my column, I said that the women in question had their appeals turned down by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I stand corrected, their appeals were turned down by the Charleston Housing Authority.
I also wrote that the women in question signed HUD leases, which held them liable if a member of their respective families faced serious criminal charges. This was based on a P&C report.
As Martin correctly implies, I did not read the lease under which the women and their children are being evicted. Again, I relied on the P&C for this information.
In his letter Martin asks, “Is it Mr. Moredock’s position that the mothers of the six boys involved ‘permitted’ the isolated instance of poor judgment?” That was evidently the understanding of the Housing Authority administrative officer Romona Gourdine. According to the Dec. 11 P&C, Gourdine said it is a “‘play on words’ that the women’s lawyers said they did not violate the lease because they did not condone or actually ‘permit’ their children to engage in criminal behavior.”
In her letter to the five women, Gourdine wrote, “The fact is that there was a violation of the lease and the Housing Authority provided the evidence needed to support their decision to terminate your dwelling lease arrangement.”