The municipality of Norristown in Montgomery County has a three-strikes policy for renters — three calls to police for a disturbance and landlords must evict.
That dissuaded domestic violence victim Lakisha Briggs from calling police when her ex-boyfriend assaulted her in her home, injuring her so badly she had to be transported by medevac to the hospital. But the call made by a neighbor to get Briggs medical care became the grounds for Norristown officials to order her landlord to start eviction proceedings.
Now, the ACLU has brought a federal suit against Norristown on her behalf.
“Unfortunately, Norristown is telling domestic violence victims they need to be quiet or be evicted,” says ACLU attorney Sara Rose.
Though a judge halted eviction proceedings in Briggs’ case, Rose says the municipality persisted, threatening to revoke the sympathetic landlord’s license, condemn the property and arrest Briggs for trespassing if she remained in her home.
“We filed this case because we want to make sure that domestic violence victims are not afraid to call the police — and really that anyone in the community who needs police assistance doesn’t have to fear losing their home if they call the police,” Rose said.
Interim Police Chief Willie Richet said the town hasn’t yet received a copy of the lawsuit so it would be premature to comment.
Rose and her colleagues are asking a judge to stop Norristown from enforcing the ordinance as the court case proceeds. She says similar ordinances are in place throughout the state of Pennsylvania.