Two years ago, Lakisha Briggs faced eviction from her home in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Under the town’s nuisance ordinance, the police responses to domestic violence Briggs suffered were considered “strikes” by the Norristown police chief, leading to her eventual displacement. In other words, Briggs, a Black mother of two daughters, had effectively been held responsible for her own abuse—part of a broader trend exposed when the American Civil Liberties Union filed afederal lawsuit on her behalf challenging the ordinance’s constitutionality last year.
On Monday, September 8, the ACLU announced that Norristown’s Municipal Council had voted to repeal the law as part of a settlement the organization reached with the city. Norristown has also agreed to not adopt a similar code in the future.
It’s a significant move, said Sandra Park, senior attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, because it demonstrates that laws like these are more problematic than pragmatic—particularly for people in abusive households.
“Anything that limits or penalizes folks for making calls to the police is going to harm domestic violence [survivors],” Park, who worked on the case, told RH Reality Check. “This lawsuit will help make that connection for municipalities analyzing whether or not they want to enact one of these types of ordinances or keep one on the books.”
“It sets a high-profile precedent for other cities,” she added.
Read more of my RH Reality Check article here.