CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The state and local NAACP on Monday blasted the Myers Park Homeowners Association for a discriminatory deed restriction published on its Web site.
The dispute could end up in court if the two sides don't reach some sort of agreement — possibly including a financial payment that some estimate could reach $50,000 — within 30 days.
The NAACP filed a complaint in 2007 against the association for posting a sample deed that included a decades-old clause specifying that "people of the Caucasian race only" could live in or own a Myers Park house.
The complaint was filed with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, which investigates claims of housing discrimination. Last week, the committee ruled that the Myers Park association was responsible for publishing a discriminatory statement and told the two parties to negotiate a settlement.
Although the deed was removed from the Web site more than a year ago, the NAACP is seeking penalties that could include a financial payment.
"It's kind of like being caught speeding. You can't just slow down — you've got to pay the fine," the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, told a crowd of about 100 people gathered Monday at Little Rock AME Zion Church in uptown.
Ken Davies, an attorney representing the Myers Park Homeowners Association, told WCNC-TV, the Observer's news partner, that the clause is nearly a century old, is illegal, and has not been enforced.
Davies told WCNC that the NAACP's demands, which have not been publicly released, are "outrageous."
The president of the Myers Park Homeowners Association issued a public apology Monday, saying the group was trying to draw attention to construction-related restrictions and did not intend to discriminate.
"We published it solely to alert homeowners about setbacks and other restrictions for modifying their homes," Pamela May told the Observer. "We deserve to take responsibility, and we do."
The association acknowledged the language posted in the sample deed is offensive, but said it didn't have the authority to change wording recorded almost 100 years ago.
"To those who read and were offended, we apologize," her statement said. "The Myers Park Homeowners Association has never attempted to discriminate against anyone."
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