Why is the city of Montgomery condemning the property of African-Americans along a civil rights trail?





...Over the last decade or so, dozens—perhaps hundreds—of homes in Montgomery have been declared blighted and razed in a similar manner. The owners tend to be disproportionately poor and black, and with little means to fight back. And here's the kicker: Many of the homes fall along a federally funded civil rights trail in the neighborhood where Rosa Parks lived. Activists say the weird pattern may not be coincidence. "What's happening in Montgomery is a civil rights crisis," says David Beito, a history professor at the University of Alabama who, as chair of the Alabama State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, held hearings on the demolitions in April of last year.

Just how many homes have been targeted over the years isn't clear, in part because most of the people targeted haven't the means or the will to fight the condemnations. But some residents believe the number is in the hundreds. It's certain that there were more than 60 demolitions in 2008. And ABC News reported last month that 29 buildings were approved for demolition in 2009, and 49 have been approved so far this year. To be fair, Montgomery has its share of eyesores, and some of the demolitions may well be intended to get rid of abandoned or neglected houses and protect public safety. But many aren't: Beito says more than 30 people testified at his hearings last year that their homes had been wrongly targeted....


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