Kansas City: Tenants Block Courthouse As Eviction Cases Reopen

By Brian Martel

On Thursday, the housing struggle organization Kansas City (KC) Tenants successfully blocked both entrances to the Jackson County Courthouse, stopping anyone from entering or exiting the building.

The blockade was organized in response to the end of the eviction moratorium on January 24, which was extended by the 16th Circuit Court Presiding Judge Dale Youngs after KC Tenants protested outside of his home.

After KC Tenants protested outside of other judges’ homes, Youngs extended a previous executive order from last year which allowed tenants to submit a declaration form to their landlord to qualify for protection from eviction, based only on nonpayment of rent. KC Tenants call this order inadequate as it has still allowed nearly 2,000 eviction hearings since the national CDC moratorium was announced.

Thursday’s action was KC Tenants’ ninth in-person action of the month, part of their Zero Eviction January campaign. KC Tenants has delayed or stopped 717 evictions this month so far, 98% of all evictions in Jackson County.

Two homeless people in Kansas City have died this winter, even as many houses sit empty. “The court plans to do its damnedest to kick out 150 tenants into the cold, COVID- wracked winter streets today. We’re here to shut that shit down,” said an organizer with KC Tenants.

KC Tenants also disrupted online eviction hearings in two courtrooms, blocking most of the day’s court processes. Although many tenants are unable to afford broadband internet, if they are unable to connect for their scheduled online eviction hearing they cannot defend themselves, and the court grants the eviction.

Most of the 152 evictions scheduled for January 29, were delayed at least several weeks due to the disruption. “I don’t know where I would go if I was evicted,” a nursing assistant told KC Tenants. “Today, my eviction was delayed till mid-February, thanks to a blockade outside.”

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