Thursday, February 9, 2017

Indiana town continues classist land grab

Fascism is on the march in Charlestown, Indiana.

The town is home to a neighborhood called Pleasant Ridge - which has lots of low-income, working-class people. Some are families, and some are elderly or suffer from life-threatening illnesses. For over a year, right-wing city officials have been trying to demolish the neighborhood and replace it with luxury housing and upscale businesses.

Officials' language about Pleasant Ridge is openly classist. Officials called the neighborhood a "menace" to the rest of the town. They say Pleasant Ridge stands in the way of reshaping Charlestown as a more conservative high-end suburb. The city has fined Pleasant Ridge landlords - not because they did anything wrong, but because they want to encourage them to sell their property to developers.

Even the usually conservative Institute for Justice calls the case "the most outrageous property rights abuse in the U.S. right now." Pleasant Ridge residents have even filed a lawsuit accusing the city of being in cahoots with the developer. The lawsuit claims property owners can skip the fines by selling to the developer - as long as they sell all their properties in the neighborhood, not just those with the fines.

When city officials' campaign against Pleasant Ridge began, city council passed a resolution calling for a "permanent solution" to the neighborhood. A "permanent solution"????? Really????? Uh. That really sounds...bad. Very, very bad. The resolution also referred to Pleasant Ridge as "the projects" - which isn't even an official name for it, but was included just because of the images it evokes.

Of course, land grabs like this aren't limited to small towns. We've seen them in Cincinnati too, and elsewhere locally. I've discussed before that Over-the-Rhine has been slowly gnawed away at for some time by developers and the hated 3CDC. As idiotic as that land grab is, Charlestown officials aren't even pretending to be nice about theirs.

The Charlestown lawsuit may have slowed the city's campaign of econocide - but a lot of damage has already been done, and it's placed a lot of stress on ailing residents. Hopefully, what remains of Pleasant Ridge can be saved before it's too late.


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