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A tragic case of justice delayed is justice denied

Six years ago, in 2013, it was thought by city officials that the city’s longstanding housing discrimination lawsuit had finally – finally – been settled.
Oh, how wrong they were.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Michael Barnhart, pointed out a couple years later that the city was three houses short of the 200 housing units the city agreed to build to settle the case.
Someone on the city’s side apparently couldn’t count.
Starting this fall or next spring, the final three houses will be built. The money for the construction is secured, and all that needs to happen is to break ground.
Can we safely say the case is over once and for all?
The only thing for sure is, you never know.
But one thing we do know is that there are no living survivors from the original lawsuit. As the saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied.
Even the federal judge in the case, Damon Keith, admitted that. Keith died last April at the age of 96. He had previously handed over the case, which he had overseen since its inception, to another judge.
What a shame Judge Keith and the plaintiffs have missed out, and all this only compounds Hamtramck’s original sin of discrimination in the first place.
The Sarah Sims Garret versus the City of Hamtramck case started over 50 years ago, when city officials at that time targeted neighborhoods populated mostly by African-Americans for housing demolition – all under the guise of “urban renewal.”
Eventually, those individuals and families filed a lawsuit against the city for housing discrimination.
The city eventually agreed to build 200 housing units for the plaintiffs, but guess what? There was no money to fund the project.
Thanks largely to the Obama administration, money poured in to get construction going – all in a bigger effort to juice the economy, and get people back to work.
Hopefully, Hamtramck can now move forward, and put this sad chapter behind it.
Aug. 23, 2019

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