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Right to Fair Housing Violated: Tampa Man Sentenced After Threatening to Burn a House Down

 

They were just a family trying to buy a home from another family who wanted to sell theirs in Tampa, Florida. Transactions like this take place thousands of times each day around the country and proceed, in most instances, without a problem.

However, in this particular instance, the right to fair housing protected by the federal Civil Rights Act—the right to purchase a home in a desired location, and the right to sell that home—was under attack. And it was under attack by a neighbor who didn’t like the religious beliefs of the buyers.

The FBI—the primary federal agency responsible for investigating allegations of federal civil rights violations—ultimately became involved. And this past June, that neighbor—59-year-old David H. Howard—was sentenced to a federal prison term for violating the civil rights of both buyer and seller.

According to Tampa FBI case agent Susana Mapu, the incident occurred in November 2016, when “a Muslim couple originally from India—the husband wearing a woven cap often worn by Muslim men, and both wearing traditional Indian clothing—arrived for their final walk-through at the Tampa home they planned to purchase the following day.” She said that the buyers had worn similar clothing during several earlier visits to look at the home, and that for that final inspection visit, the couple—who had two college-age children—was accompanied by the wife’s elderly parents.

Also present during the walk-through were the sellers and their two adult children, two realtors, movers, and a cleaning person.

Not long after the buyers got there, Howard left his nearby home and walked toward the sellers’ home, angrily yelling at the sellers about the potential buyers. He threatened—twice—to break all the windows in the house and then burn it down. And he pointedly told the buyers, “You are not welcome here!” Read more

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Right to Fair Housing Violated: Tampa Man Sentenced After Threatening to Burn a House Down

Right to Fair Housing Violated: Tampa Man Sentenced After Threatening to Burn a House Down