The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Maplewood, challenging the city’s ‘chronic nuisance ordinance,’ which the organization says is unconstitutional, according to a press release dated April 7.
In March the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council filed a similar suit against Maplewood, saying the city’s nuisance ordinance effectively exiles households that have drawn two or more police calls — even if they’re the victims rather than perpetrators.
According to the ACLU, between September 2011 to February 2012, Rosetta Watson called the police several times after physical abuse by her former boyfriend at her Maplewood home. In one incident, he kicked open the front door and punched Watson in the face while she was in bed.
More than two calls to the police regarding domestic violence from the same address within a 180-day period is considered a nuisance under Maplewood’s policy and violators can be forced from their homes and banished from the city for six months.
The ACLU says that because of Maplewood’s law, Watson was forced to leave the home she had rented for two years. She moved to the city of St. Louis, where in July 2012, her former boyfriend broke in to her new home and stabbed her in the legs.
After losing her Maplewood home because she called the police for assistance, Watson decided not call law enforcement after she was stabbed in St. Louis. She took herself to the hospital, where she was treated. The hospital contacted the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, which arrested her former boyfriend. He pled guilty to domestic assault.
When asked for a response from the city of Maplewood, City Manager Marty Corcoran said, “We have not seen the lawsuit or been served. Until we have a chance to review the lawsuit we are unable to comment.”