Metro-East News

Federal judge stops Granite City from evicting 2 families that filed civil rights lawsuits

A federal judge has temporarily stopped the evictions of two Granite City families under the city’s crime-free housing ordinance, which is the subject of two ongoing civil rights lawsuits.

The first lawsuit was filed in August; a second was filed Monday.

U.S. District Judge Staci Yandle decided both of the families involved can’t be removed from their homes for now through a temporary restraining order. It expires Oct. 23, when hearings are scheduled for both cases, unless the court extends it further.

City officials and their attorneys couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The families are each fighting evictions over crimes they say they didn’t commit. They are suing Granite City for the city’s enforcement of its crime-free housing ordinance, which says tenants can be evicted from rentals if they — or their guests — commit a crime.

Debi Brumit and Andy Simpson, the latest plaintiffs, were told the criminal charges against Brumit’s adult daughter were grounds for eviction — even after they argued she doesn’t live with them anymore. They say they were questioned by a city official about whether they would let her visit their home to see her family or spend Christmas with them.

Debi Brumit’s and Andy Simpson’s Granite City home is pictured Oct. 4, 2019.

Brumit’s daughter Tori Gintz is accused of stealing a van in Granite City. The address police had for her was the Briarcliff Drive home Brumit and Simpson have been renting for three years, online court records show.

Brumit tried to appeal the city’s decision to evict them, showing pieces of mail addressed to her daughter with a Missouri address at a grievance hearing in July, documents provided by the city show.

Granite City Police Lt. Mike Parkinson, who enforces the crime-free housing ordinance, was involved in the hearing.

“Lt. Parkinson interrogated Debi about whether she would ever let Tori — her daughter and the mother of her grandchildren —back into her home,” the lawsuit states. “Lt. Parkinson even demanded to know whether Tori would be allowed to visit for Christmas.”

Jessica Barron, Kenny Wylie and their landlord Bill Campbell filed the August lawsuit. They say the city wants to evict them from the Maple Street home they have been working to purchase from Campbell because their son’s 18-year-old friend, who stayed with them a few nights a week when he had nowhere else to go, was convicted of burglary.


Why we did this story

The Belleville News-Democrat has been reporting on the litigation over Granite City’s crime-free housing ordinance since August 2019. This is the latest development. We will continue to follow this story.

Brumit wrote that the judge’s ruling was “such a relief” in a news release from her attorneys.

“Andy and I have been living under the cloud of the city’s eviction demands for months now,” she wrote. “... I have no idea what we would do if we lost our home.”

In an interview in August, Barron said her family didn’t know what they would do either.

“There’s nowhere for us to go. We’d be homeless, basically,” she said.

Both families are arguing the city’s ordinance is unconstitutional. They are represented by the same attorneys.

“Enough is enough,” the latest lawsuit states. “The City cannot be trusted to honor the rights of its citizens. Its relentless efforts to make innocent people homeless violate the U.S. Constitution at a bedrock level, and for that reason Plaintiffs seek relief in this Court.”

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The metro-east is home for investigative reporter Lexi Cortes. She was raised in Granite City, went to school in Edwardsville and now lives in Collinsville. Lexi has worked at the Belleville News-Democrat since 2014, winning multiple state awards for her investigative and community service reporting.
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