A 93-year-old Black woman has filed a lawsuit against a real estate developer who she has accused of attempting to harras her into selling her property in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina—a property she says has been in her family since just after the Civil War.
According to Live 5 WCSC, Josephine Wright, who has 40 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great-grandchildren she says she wants to be able to enjoy her family’s land, spoke publicly about the lawsuit filed against Bailey Point Investment Group on Thursday. Wright is being represented by civil rights attorney Bakari Sellers.
“It’s a classic story,” Sellers said during a news conference. “You have a 93-year-old young lady who has been working her entire life to provide for her family her entire life. And you have this great big large development company. And look, nobody up here is against development per se. Nobody up here is anti-business. I mean, we just want to keep what’s ours and we want to be able to pass that down.”
According to Wright, who said she comes from a family of enslaved people who escaped and were freed by Union soldiers, she had been previously sued by the developer because she refused to sell the company her land so it can build a 29-acre, 147-unit housing development. But court documents filed by Bailey Point indicate that she was sued because she stalled progress on the development by leaving her personal property on property owned by the developer. But one of Wright’s grandchildren says they paid to remove the personal items but that didn’t end the harassment.
“What it was was that they served her with papers that said that there was an encroachment at first with a storage shed a satellite dish, you know, just some crazy things, you know, and a back porch,” Wright’s granddaughter Charise Graves said.
Graves said they paid out of pocket to the tune of thousands of dollars to remove the items.
The removal of the items still didn’t end the harassment from the developers, Graves said.
“Actually, what I want them to do is just leave me alone,” Wright said.
Court documents state the items have “significantly delayed and hindered” the development of the property.
“I’ve spoken to everyone about the fact that there is a concerted effort to take property away from black folk in our community, who have lived a great life who have given so much to this community, and now find themselves at the ripe old age of 93 years old fighting to maintain and keep what is theirs,” Sellers said.
So, Wright’s attorneys filed a counterclaim against Bailey Point accusing the investment company of launching “a consistent and constant barrage of tactics of intimidation, harassment (and) trespass” in response to Wright declining to sell her property when reps from the company approached her about it.
Last month, Bailey Point requested that Josephine Wright’s countersuit be dismissed on the grounds that “there was no claim for which a relief can be granted,” WCSC reported.
“It’s historical,” Wright said. “It goes back to the Civil War and it’s been in the family since that time.”
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