Community Members to Rally at JC Court in Support of Eviction Defense Advocates
JOHNSON CITY—In early April 2022, neighboring tenants at 149 Hudson St, Johnson City received a series of informal notices directing them to vacate the property by May 1st. These notices of eviction were not prompted by failure to pay rent or any violation of existing rental agreements, nor were they issued by a court or signed by a judge.
Tenants questioned the validity of the notices and reached out to local housing advocates for guidance. They were informed that the notices were not legally enforceable.
On the afternoon of April 14th, 2022, at approximately 2pm, property manager Will Fassett instructed tenants to vacate their apartment by 5:30pm and move to an uninhabitable rental unit on the adjoining property. Tenants once again reached out for community support.
By 5:30pm, a handful of Eviction Defense advocates converged on the property after being invited by the residing tenants. The property manager arrived shortly thereafter and was informed by the Eviction Defense team that the notices to evict were unlawful and would not be imposed on the families currently residing in the units. It was made clear that tenants would not vacate without a formal court ordered eviction or Emergency Vacate order from the fire marshal. The property manager became irate as more advocates arrived to ensure the safety of the tenants and their children.
In response, the property manager called law enforcement before leaving the premises around 7:45pm. Nearly two hours later, at 9:30pm, the property manager returned to Hudson St with three Johnson City Police units.
After conferring with the property manager, the responding officers confronted the remaining Eviction Defense advocates and tenants outside of the property. Law enforcement began issuing verbal commands and threatening everyone on the property with arrest. When those in attendance failed to disperse, police radioed for additional units and deployed pepper spray into the crowd—which included women and at least two children.
For the next 15 minutes, police levied an all-out assault on tenants and advocates on and around the property. At least 22 officers arrived on the scene. Several civilians were injured. Three advocates with zero criminal history were violently arrested. Multiple people were pepper sprayed. And tenants and their children alike stated they felt traumatized and targeted by the behavior of law enforcement.
The actions of the Johnson City Police with assistance from surrounding departments have left many in the community fearful and outraged. The violent escalation and assault by police on invited guests at a lawful gathering is an egregious violation of the Constitutional rights of citizens and residents of Johnson City. As such, a Community Response has been coordinated at the Johnson City Village Court during scheduled arraignments for the three Hudson Street Police Assault Victims wrongly arrested on April 14th.
WHO: Stakeholders of Broome County
WHAT: Pack the JC Court
WHEN: Wednesday, May 4th at 9:45am
WHERE: JC Village Court, 31 Avenue C, Johnson City
Residents are demanding an immediate dismissal of all charges brought against the three arrest victims, or escalating demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience will continue to bring light to the injustices unfolding in our close-knit community.
Housing is a human right. The right to assemble is protected under law. These charges and the accompanying brutality are an affront to all.
For additional information and details surrounding this incident and future Housing Justice actions, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org