CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- “The lot hereby conveyed shall be used for residential purposes only and shall be owned and occupied by people of the Caucasian race.”
That inflammatory statement is the first rule listed on Myers Park’s deed restrictions, WCNC.com reports. “Two years ago, Newschannel 36 spotted the wording on a ‘sample deed’ listed on the Myers Park Neighborhood Association Web site,” the station reports. “The complaints that followed our coverage prompted the NACCP to complain to the Charlotte committee that polices discrimination.”
Now, Charlotte Mecklenburg’s Community Relations Committee (CRC) has formally called that Web site publication “discriminatory” and the NAACP is making demands, according to WCNC.
“You have to do more than say, ‘Oops I’m sorry.’ We’re tired of people getting caught doing racist things and then just saying, ‘Oops, I’m sorry,’” NACCP NC president Dr. William Barber told the station on Monday.
That wording is nearly a hundred years ago from a time when rules like that were common in Charlotte neighborhoods. Myers Park’s attorney, Ken Davies, told Newschannel 36 the provision is illegal. Furthermore, he said, it has not been enforced.
It is the publication of that sample deed on the associations Web site that prompted review from the CRC, based on a complaint from the NAACP. The committee cited additional language on the website that emphasized how seriously Myers Park takes its deed restrictions.
“Prospective purchasers of homes in the Myers Park neighborhood may have seen the MPHA’s Web site containing the restrictive covenant and been discouraged from looking for a home in Myers Park,” the committee wrote. “The Respondents have engaged in discriminatory practices made unlawful by the City of Charlotte’s Fair Housing Ordinance.”
The MPHA and the NAACP now have 30 days to negotiate a response. If no agreement is reached, the city could file legal action, according to Newschannel 36.
The “The restrictions on race were, of course, declared invalid in the 1940s,” Pamela May, president of the neighborhood association, said in a statement. “However, the language remains in the documents recorded as historical relic. MPHA has no authority to change this wording as recorded. The original language is offensive. We did not publish this with the intent to discriminate. We did not publish it with the intent to harm. It is regrettable that these words appeared on our site, particularly without an explanation. To those who read and were offended, we apologize. The Myers Park Homeowners Association has never attempted to discriminate against anyone.”
But NAACP President William Barber, arguing that the civil rights group has been negotiating with MPHA since the complaint was first filed in 2007, says the apology is not enough.
“We don’t know how many people were turned away. We don’t know how many people were affected,” he said. “It’s kind of like speeding. You can’t just slow down. You’ve got to pay the penalty.”