City leaders hold emergency press conference after racist neighborhood covenant discovered: 'Words matter'

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    City leaders in Tallahassee, Florida held an emergency press conference on Monday after an attorney, and potential home-buyer, discovered outdated, racist languages in a neighborhood's covenant. (Photo: Facebook)City leaders in Tallahassee, Florida held an emergency press conference on Monday after an attorney, and potential home-buyer, discovered outdated, racist languages in a neighborhood's covenant. (Photo: Facebook)
    City leaders in Tallahassee, Florida held an emergency press conference on Monday after an attorney, and potential home-buyer, discovered outdated, racist languages in a neighborhood’s covenant. (Photo: Facebook)
    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="An emergency&nbsp;press conference&nbsp;was held on Monday in Tallahassee,&nbsp;Florida, after a local attorney discovered&nbsp;racist&nbsp;language in a midtown neighborhood’s covenant. The agreement in question was written more than a half-century ago and banned non-Caucasians from owning or residing on the property in the Betton Hills subdivision.” data-reactid=”22″>An emergency press conference was held on Monday in Tallahassee, Florida, after a local attorney discovered racist language in a midtown neighborhood’s covenant. The agreement in question was written more than a half-century ago and banned non-Caucasians from owning or residing on the property in the Betton Hills subdivision.

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="According to Annabelle Dias'&nbsp;Facebook post&nbsp;regarding the contract, the restrictive covenant is what would prevent her from purchasing her "dream house."” data-reactid=”23″>According to Annabelle Dias’ Facebook post regarding the contract, the restrictive covenant is what would prevent her from purchasing her “dream house.”

    The document reads, “no person of other than the Caucasian race shall own, use or occupy any property in said subdivision except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race or nationality employed by an owner or tenant.”

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""I'm not just buying a house, I'm buying a neighborhood," Dias told the&nbsp;Tallahassee Democrat. "What I would like to see done is for that document to no longer exist. It should not be passed on to prospective buyers."” data-reactid=”27″>”I’m not just buying a house, I’m buying a neighborhood,” Dias told the Tallahassee Democrat. “What I would like to see done is for that document to no longer exist. It should not be passed on to prospective buyers.”

    Her initial post, which was shared on June 22, resulted in leaders throughout the city to call on the City of Tallahassee to take action regarding the language, which they have dubbed “repugnant.”

    However, despite the outcry and support to change the covenant, which was written in 1939, altering the document will not be so easy according to the president of the Betton Hills Neighborhood Association, Mike Brezin.

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Brezin shared in a&nbsp;blog post&nbsp;on Sunday that this is a property law issue tied to titles, and that there is no easy fix.” data-reactid=”32″>Brezin shared in a blog post on Sunday that this is a property law issue tied to titles, and that there is no easy fix.

    “Admittedly, separating offensive but expired restricted covenants from a deed may be seen as small potatoes,” Brezin wrote. “Perhaps more importantly, actions like this can mark the beginning of a new era of accounting for historical wrongs and creating remedies to reconcile our history with our national ideals.”

    While the covenant is not legally enforceable today, it was announced during Monday’s press conference that a task force will be launched to get the language removed.

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""I do not believe that the people who live in Betton Hills today are racist or did anything wrong," Dias wrote in a&nbsp;follow-up post&nbsp;regarding the issue. "[Brezin] took his time to call me along with people who reside there and assure me that my family would be welcome. I have no reason to not believe them and they have been nothing but fantastic."” data-reactid=”35″>”I do not believe that the people who live in Betton Hills today are racist or did anything wrong,” Dias wrote in a follow-up post regarding the issue. “[Brezin] took his time to call me along with people who reside there and assure me that my family would be welcome. I have no reason to not believe them and they have been nothing but fantastic.”

    “Words matter,” Brezin wrote. “And so do actions.”

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