Last month, a Madison, WI, police officer shot and killed Tony Terrell Robinson Jr., an unarmed 19-year-old. The city’s chief of police has compared the case to death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
On Wednesday, the Wisconsin-based Devil’s Advocates Radio Network reported that Robinson’s surviving roommate, Anthony M. Limon, had received an eviction notice, giving him five days to vacate their Madison apartment or pay their three-days-late rent and $1,192.15 for “bio-hazard cleanup” for removal of Robinson’s blood from the apartment. The notice was addressed to Limon and his mother, whose name also appears on the lease.
The notice was sent by landlord Ray A. Peterson. Peterson told Devil’s Advocates co-host Mike Crute that he believed it appropriate to bill Limon for the bio-hazard removal because Robinson’s name did not appear on the lease.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Peterson confirmed the report and argued that he was obligated to treat all tenants equally to avoid potentially violating non-discrimination laws. “If we gave them special privileges, it could be a real discrimination problem,” he explained. “In order to stay in business we have to treat the laws equally and all lessees equally.” He noted that an attorney for the tenants had indicated they intend to vacate without waiting to be evicted, which he termed a “delightful message.” Regarding the tragic death of Robinson, Peterson added, “We certainly feel bad about it.”
Brenda K. Konkel, the executive director of the Madison-based Tenant Resource Center told ThinkProgress that Peterson was under no legal obligation to evict Limon or charge him for the blood removal. “There is no law like that,” she explained, and while “he has to treat everyone the same in similar circumstances,” there would only be a legal issue if someone of a different protected class were also to be killed in one of his apartments by the police and he treated the cases differently.
In 1999, Peterson was convicted of violating a city ordinance after disconnecting the electricity and heat for an occupied dwelling.