Monday, November 9, 2015

Donald Trump Company's Racially Discriminatory Rental Policy Revisited

During the 1970's a major racial discrimination suit was brought by the U.S. Justice Department against the family business, coincidentally, of 2016 Republican party presidential candidate Donald Trump and his father--because it apparently refused to rent apartments to African-American tenant applicants in some of the housing developments it owned and managed. As the 1992 book by former Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, Trump: The Deals and The Downfall, noted:

"...The Justice Department...brought a major racial discrimination suit against the [Trump] company, contending that the Trumps had systematically refused to rent to Blacks. Four superintendents or rental agents working for [Donald and Fred] Trump confirmed to federal authorities that applications for apartments were coded by race. Doormen were told to discourage applications from Blacks by telling them that there were no vacancies or by jacking up the rent...One staffer said that his instructions came straight from Fred [Trump II] and the company went so far as to try to figure out how `to decrease the number of Black tenants' already in one development `by encouraging them to locate housing elsewhere.'

"The government was willing...to sign a consent decree with the Trumps, compelling them to take certain affirmative steps to integrate their estimated 14,000 unites in the New York area, but Donald [Trump] and [Roy] Cohn agreed that they'd much rather fight...

"The litigation dragged on for a year and a half...Finally, Donald [Trump] signed the consent decree. The government called the decree--which required advertisements in minority papers, minority employment promotions, and a preferential vacancy listing with the Urban League--`one of the most far reaching ever negotiated.'...

"...Four years later, in the summer of 1978, the Justice Department found the Trumps in contempt of the decree and called them back into court...It all remained irrelevant to Donald [Trump]. The bottom line was that two government discrimination lawsuits had had no effect on the company's ability to make development deals, usually with the government's help..." 

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