Philadelphia man gets prison time for role in illegal eviction attempt

Kareem M. Terry was tried and sentenced more than two years after a series of events that saw police respond twice.

Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture points to a padlock she installed on her bedroom

Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture points to a padlock she installed on her bedroom at her home in West Philadelphia as she faced harassment from her landlord and an illegal eviction. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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A Philadelphia man was sentenced to 6-12 months in prison for participating in a hostile rental dispute in 2022 that pitted a housing activist against a property owner and his family.

Kareem M. Terry will also serve two years probation and complete 300 hours of community service upon his release.

“People have a right to defend their homes,” said Municipal Court Judge Karen Y. Simmons, adding that Terry’s actions were “wrong on so many levels.”

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The sentence was more severe than the 3-6 month prison sentence prosecutors sought following an hourlong bench trial held Monday.

It’s unclear if Terry will appeal his conviction. The 31-year-old was found guilty of false imprisonment, terroristic threats, stalking and other offenses.

“The judge issued a sentence that she thought was fair. I don’t necessarily agree with the sentence, but the sentence is what the sentence is,” said attorney Eric Solomon, who represented Terry.

Prosecutors declined to comment.

The rare case stems from a 10-day effort to illegally evict Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture from the West Philly home she was renting on the 200 block of South 55th Street.

It all started on Feb. 4, 2022 — the day Nkrumah-Ture’s new landlord, Alvan Morrison, left a notice that told her she had 30 days to move out of the four-bedroom property. The notice, stuck in her front door, also said Morrison would be moving in, and that Nkrumah-Ture, then 64, would be “considered a housemate” until she left, according to a civil complaint filed against Morrison.

Two days later, Morrison showed up with boxes and told her to get out.

“I was in fear for my safety because it seemed like they were trying to do an illegal eviction,” said Nkrumah-Ture on the stand.

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Morrison returned the following day with a group of people, including Terry, his brother. Nkrumah-Ture said Terry yelled and screamed at her from the sidewalk in front of the house. She said she also pushed a couch against her locked front door because Terry was “rattling” it, and “we didn’t want him to burst in.”

The police were called, but the harassment continued and escalated after officers left, said Nkrumah-Ture. She said Terry later tossed some of her belongings outside and taunted her and her friends after a padlock was placed on her bedroom door, locking them inside until police freed them.

Both actions were captured on cell phone video played during Monday’s trial.

“Y’all want to play, we can play too,” Terry can be heard saying on the footage.

Nkrumah-Ture said Terry also blew marijuana smoke in her face and called her and her friends derogatory names. At one point, she saw a gun sitting on the living floor. She said Terry announced at one point that “we’re licensed to carry” and threatened to “start shooting people.”

The February standoff only ended after a judge granted an emergency injunction. Under the 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.

Nkrumah-Ture, who now lives in another apartment in West Philly, said she is exhausted, but glad “this part is over.”

“I hope the city of Philadelphia will pay attention to issues of illegal evictions and violent evictions. They happen a lot more often than we think,” she said after sentencing.

Nkrumah-Ture is now suing Morrison in connection to his attempt to illegally evict her. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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