- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG’s Office Files Lawsuits Over Claims of Race-Based Discrimination at Fitchburg and Roslindale Apartment Complexes
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey has filed lawsuits in two separate cases alleging race-based discrimination against Black and Brown families by their neighbors at residential developments in Fitchburg and Roslindale.
The AG’s Office filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court against Boston resident John Carey alleging he violated the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act by harassing, threatening, and intimidating several of his Black neighbors at a set of residential rental units in Roslindale. The AG’s Office is also seeking a preliminary injunction in order to protect the residents from further hostile conduct and to reclaim their right to live in their homes peacefully.
In a separate matter, the AG’s Office filed a complaint against Taymil Partners LLC, the manager of an apartment complex in Fitchburg, alleging the company violated the state’s consumer protection and anti-discrimination laws by failing to address or prevent the ongoing race-based harassment of a Latinx family by two white neighbors in the apartment complex.
“The type of discrimination endured by these tenants is unacceptable – they were repeatedly harassed because of their race and made to feel unsafe in their own homes,” AG Healey said. “This hateful conduct has no place in our society, and we will take action to address discrimination in our communities.”
According to the AG’s complaint, Carey engaged in a series of unprovoked and increasingly frequent racist attacks over the course of several months in 2019 and 2020 on a group of eight Black residents living in three houses that abut his property. The attacks allegedly included calling the residents racist epithets, taunting them, trespassing onto their yard, recording their activities with cameras, calling the police on them, calling inspectional services about the properties they live on, and, overall, making it increasingly difficult for them to live their daily lives in peace.
The AG’s Office alleges that in May 2020, Carey harassed two of the residents from his backyard by giving them the middle finger, shouting racist profanities at them, and holding up a bunch of bananas and jumping up and down, which the residents understood to be a “racist suggestion that they were monkeys.” On another occasion in May, the AG’s Office alleges that Carey harassed one of the residents by yelling racist and inflammatory statements at the resident, including calling the resident a “gangster” and telling him to drop the gun and to stop threatening Carey’s family. The resident did not have any weapon and never threatened Carey.
The AG’s Office alleges that Carey’s repeated harassment has caused the residents severe emotional distress, disrupted their daily lives, and caused them to fear for their safety and the safety of their families.
The AG’s Office alleges in its complaint that residents of a Fitchburg apartment complex were subjected to severe and erratic harassment by their neighbors living in an adjacent apartment building in the same complex. The harassment allegedly included the neighbors making racist and xenophobic remarks, including calling the tenant and her family “drug dealers,” exclaiming that they should go back to their country, and saying the neighborhood is a “white neighborhood.” The complaint further alleges that the neighbors yelled profanities and waved the middle finger at a Latinx tenant and her family and shone a flashlight into the tenant’s unit during the late evening hours.
The AG’s Office alleges the tenant and her family made multiple complaints to Taymil staff to no avail, and on one occasion, were told by a leasing agent that management couldn’t do anything about the complaints and that if the tenant didn’t like the situation, she could move. According to the complaint, in November 2016, a Fitchburg police officer told the building’s managing agent that they should evict the neighbors, and the agent told the officer they would not do so because the neighbors had lived there for six years and paid their rent on time.
According to the complaint, the tenant and her family finally applied to rent a new apartment in Fitchburg in May 2018 in order to escape the harassing conduct but didn’t get the apartment because Taymil failed to provide a required reference on time.
Under state law, it is illegal for a business to engage in unfair acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce, such as interfering with, and failing to protect, the tenant and her family’s right to quiet enjoyment of their apartment. According to the state’s antidiscrimination law, tenants have a right to be free from harassment and discrimination in their housing accommodations. It is also illegal for the managing agent of a building to discriminate against a person because of his or her race, color, national origin or other protected characteristics.
Under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, the AG’s Office may obtain injunctions against individuals who use threats, intimidation, or coercion to interfere or attempt to interfere with the secured rights of others. The AG’s office prioritizes cases involving conduct that is motivated by the offender’s bias against the victim or victims because of their membership in a protected class – including race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
The AG’s Office encourages those who have concerns about discrimination to call the office’s Civil Rights Division at 617-963-2917 or to file a complaint online.
These matters are being handled by Assistant Attorney General Sara Colb and Special Assistant Attorney General David Ureña, both of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from Senior Investigators Ciara Tran and Marlee Greer of the Civil Investigations Division and the Civil Rights Unit of the Boston Police Department.