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A Philadelphia man is facing a string of misdemeanor charges in connection to a hostile rental dispute in 2022 that pitted a housing activist against her new landlord and his family.
Kareem M. Terry was arrested on Dec. 27 for his alleged actions during a 10-day effort to illegally evict Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, a member of the Philadelphia Tenants Union. The 30-year-old is charged with false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats and other offenses.
If convicted, Terry could be sentenced to two years in prison.
While it is common for police to help a locked out tenant regain access to their home, it is very unusual for landlords or their associates to be criminally charged. A spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.
“In the rare circumstances that we do see it, there are other factors,” said Vikram Patel, who represented Nkrumah-Ture while he was a housing attorney at Community Legal Services.
The charges stem from a series of events that started on February 5, 2022 — the day Nkrumah-Ture’s new landlord, Alvan Morrison, left notice that she had 30 days to move out of the Cobbs Creek property she had rented since August 2019. The notice also said Morrison would be moving in, and that Nkrumah-Ture would be “considered a housemate” until she left, according to a complaint filed against Morrison.
The next morning, Nkrumah-Ture said Morrison showed up with boxes and told her to get out. But she stayed put, even as members of Morrison’s family unlawfully slept at the four-bedroom property. And she remained even after Terry, Morrison’s brother, allegedly threatened her, blew marijuana smoke in her face and locked her and two of her friends in a bedroom. The group was only released after police responded and officers ordered one of Morrison’s associates to remove the padlock placed on the door.
During a heated exchange captured on video, Terry can be heard telling Nkrumah-Ture that “we’re licensed to carry” and that “we’re just gonna start shooting people.”
The standoff only ended after Common Pleas Court Judge Ann Marie Coyle granted an emergency injunction. Under the judge’s order, Nkrumah-Ture was given 30 days to move out — without any further hostility from Morrison or his family, who were barred from the property during that period.
Terry’s attorney, Eric Robert Solomon, declined to comment. He was appointed to the case last week and had yet to speak with his client. “I just don’t have enough information to make any comment at this point,” he said.
It’s unclear if Morrison or anyone else will be charged alongside Terry.
Nkrumah-Ture, who now lives in another apartment in West Philadelphia, said she is relieved that Terry is facing criminal charges. She hopes they deter Morrison and other landlords, but she thinks her ordeal compels other renters to learn their rights so they too can fight back if their landlord tries to illegally evict them.
“They did not care about any repercussions. They did not care about being held accountable because, again, they thought I was an old black woman who lives alone and they can scare me out. But I was the wrong one,” said Nkrumah-Ture.
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