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Black Residents Of Metro Atlanta Town And Film Studio File Housing Discrimination Lawsuit

Trilith ‘gives lip service’ to its claims of being racially inclusive, the plaintiffs’ lawyer says.

A group of former and current Black residents of a Georgia housing development and its associated movie studio filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against them on Nov. 16, CBS News reports.

The allegations against the Town at Trilith and Trilith Studios include management ignoring a white resident who repeatedly harassed Black neighbors and management making home repairs for white residents but ignoring maintenance complaints from Black residents.

“It was the aggregation of these stories that illustrated a systemic issue at Trilith,” CBS News quoted Michael Smith, the attorney representing the families. “They went to Trilith with the promise that this was going to be a community that was for everyone.”

The Town at Trilith is located across the street from Trilith Studios, formerly known as Pinewood Studio, and about 25 miles south of downtown Atlanta, The Associated Press reports. About 300 homes and 1,000 residents live there.

The development markets to film industry creatives who work for the studio or other film production companies in the area, according to WAGA .

The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, claims that Trilith bolstered its claim of inclusivity by its partnerships with companies like Disney, Marvel, and Netflix, which “espouse and promote values of openness, diversity and inclusion.”

But the reality was different, the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit that alleges violations of the Georgia Fair Housing Act by Trilith Studios, Trilith Development and two homeowner associations.

“Trilith gives lip service to say they value these principles of diversity that attract these Black stories to be produced at their studio, while at the same time not caring about the actual lives of Black people that are there living in that town,” Smith told the AP.

RELATED: Supreme Court Upholds Key Tool for Fighting Housing Bias

Aubrey and Pamela Williams, two plaintiffs who moved into the development in 2018 but moved out in July, told the AP that management ignored their complaints about a roof leak in their townhome but quickly repaired the leaking roofs of non-Black neighbors.

In the lawsuit, Mela Geipel alleged that a management employee called the police when they saw her son playing on the development’s basketball court in May 2021. An officer followed him home. Later, management declined to explain why an employee reported her son as an unauthorized person using the basketball court but didn’t report White residents.

Plaintiff Keyania Otobor alleged that a White resident called her and another Black resident the N-word, which was recorded on a doorbell camera in May. Otobor claims that management has ignored several complaints about the woman racially harassing other residents.

In response to the lawsuit, Trilith Studios said the five residents never had any relationship with the studio, according to the AP. Trilth studio and the development company said they will use “the appropriate forum” to address the lawsuit’s claims.

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