KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Members of KC Tenants blocked the entrance to the Jackson County Courthouse on Thursday morning.
In tweets, the organization says "every eviction is an act of violence."
Evictions are a death sentence for our most vulnerable neighbors. While eviction is already a fundamentally traumatic event, both a cause and a condition of poverty, the pandemic adds yet more anguish. All evictions are an act of violence. pic.twitter.com/iJjQWPuEcF— KC Tenants (@KCTenants) October 15, 2020
The writing on a wall there says it all: “Stop evictions.”
Members of KC Tenants have been pleading for that for months, asking for protection from evictions during the pandemic.
On Thursday morning, they took another step by physically chaining themselves to the side entrance of the Jackson County Courthouse.
Their goal was to prevent eviction hearings from happening today.
Just last month, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of KC Tenants.
It claimed an administrative order from local judge David Byrn went against the CDC’s federal eviction moratorium that was put in place on Sept. 4 and lasts until the end of the year.
KC Tenants say the court continues to evict despite the lawsuit, which they say is unfair and the reason they took another stand today.
“It feels good,” said Jenay Manley with KC Tenants. “It would feel better if we can do evictions permanently, but to show up and shut it down for the day means something. That’s another week of people being in their homes. That’s another week of knowing that you are not out in the streets in the middle of a pandemic.”
In covering this movement in the past, we have spoken with landlord Stacey Johnson Cosby, who said she doesn’t believe the moratoriums are good for either side and that this situation is tough on both landlords and renters. She also added the government needs to step up in providing renter assistance.
KCTV5 News did reach out to the courthouse for comment on today’s demonstration and the number of eviction hearings impacted. They said they will get back to us.
Later on Thursday, the 16th Judicial Circuit released the following statement:
"Every citizen has a right to access the Courts and courthouses for redress of their disputes. Today, protesters gathered at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City demanding a suspension of all landlord tenant cases. As part of that protest, many protesters attempted to deny access to the courts and deny access to the courthouse by chaining themselves to and temporarily shutting the west entrance into the courthouse. Although entry to the courthouse was available through the north entrance, the protesters’ actions temporarily closed the point of ADA access to the courthouse.
In addition to attempting to block access to the courthouse, several protesters also attempted to disrupt and interfere with court dockets and hearings by pretending to be litigants when they were not in fact parties to on-going cases, and by continuously talking and shouting over the Judge, litigants and attorneys. Notwithstanding these actions which were ultimately unsuccessful, court dockets proceeded and the rights of the litigants were protected.
The Court, as the Judicial branch of government, does not create laws, statutes or policy. The Executive branch of government (embodied by the President or the Governor) and Legislative branch of government (Congress or Missouri Legislature) create laws, statutes and policy. The Court has been and will continue to enforce and follow existing laws, including long standing landlord tenant laws, rules and procedures. The Court has been and will continue to act in compliance with the recent Order issued by the CDC.
The Executive and Legislative branches of government can change existing laws, statutes, procedures or policies. If the Executive and/or Legislative branches of government decide to change existing laws, statutes, procedures, or policies, the Court will enforce and give effect to those new laws, statutes, procedures or policies."