Tenants chain themselves to Missouri courthouse in protest

October 16, 2020 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Protesters in Kansas City, Missouri, chained themselves to the doors of a downtown courthouse Thursday and shut down virtual eviction proceedings with online disruptions.

The protest, which drew about 100 people, was organized by the nonprofit group KC Tenants, the Kansas City Star reported.

Protesters holding signs saying “eviction kills” and “court’s closed today” called on Jackson County Judge David Byrn to halt eviction hearings and keep residents in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic and related economic crisis.

The Jackson County Circuit Court temporarily halted evictions this spring, but those resumed this summer. Tenant advocates have been calling for another moratorium amid high unemployment brought on by the pandemic.

KC Tenants and the American Civil Liberties Union sued last month, alleging Byrn’s administrative order laying out procedures for eviction cases violated a federal halt of evictions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The court said in a statement that the judicial branch “does not create laws, statutes or policy,” but rather enforces and follows laws set by executive and legislative branches. It says it is and will remain in compliance with the CDC order.