By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A West Philadelphia community group is suing the City of Philadelphia and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell for moving the group out of a recreation center.
The suit was filed in federal court by members of Mantua Community Planners. Their attorney, Mike Creedy, says the group believes Councilwoman Blackwell had them evicted from their longtime offices in a Haverford Avenue recreation center.
“She had a city department change the lock, lock them out, and throw out all of their papers, their desks, their computers, everything,” Creedy tells KYW Newsradio. “We believe that it was to prevent them from expressing their voice in the community, a deprivation of their constitutional rights to assembly, free speech, and this was done without due process of law.”
Blackwell rejects the allegations and said the recreation center should be for the entire community, not one group.
“The city cleaned it out, tried to fix it up so kids could have programs after school, have computer programs. It was filled with trash from one end to the other. So we want it to be available to the community who will be able to use it as needed, and to do after-school programs. It’s for everybody in the community, not just one person or one group,” she said today.
The suit also alleges that a group member was struck by the sideview mirror of Blackwell’s car as the councilwoman left a meeting last November, a claim Blackwell also rejects.