It’s an epic manmade disaster is what I would call it.
— Butch Ortwein, East Ridge United Methodist Church
By David Tulis / Special to Eastridgenewsonline.com
Officials acted heroically and in good faith in ousting hundreds of poor people from their domiciles over two days in East Ridge, Tenn., saving lives and keeping people from harm.
That is the story of an eviction of 800 people in an extended-stay hotel, Superior Creek Lodge, which serves as a low-end place of residence in the Chattanooga area.
Initial reports citing the Salvation Army said 1,500 people were ousted, among them 300 families. Attorney Jerry Summers of Chattanooga, hired by hotel owner David Gysin, says 450 people among 138 units were refunded their money by Mr. Gysin as they were ordered out. Two of the four buildings were emptied after dark Sept. 9 amid a driving thunderstorm staggered by flashes of lightning. The 800 figure is one supplied by Dick Cook, a veteran journalist who runs Eastridgenewsonline.com. The lodge has 266 units.
Good faith and due process
The story of the ouster Sept. 9 and 10 touches on constitutional rights and how commercial government despoils the poor. Though residents pay in advance by the day, week and month, many had residency and domicile at Superior Creek Lodge. They were ousted on the orders of interim city manager Mike Williams, who also is fire chief, without due process of law. Due process implies the right to be heard, the right to appeal, the right to demand evidence prior to being deprived of a right, piece of property or liberty.
Mr. Williams acted on two rationales. One is fairly called the pretext; the other an economic development subtext that requires Mr. Gysin’s ownership of the highly valuable land be so oppressed as to induce him to liquidate.