Residents of a mostly black neighborhood in rural Ohio were awarded nearly $11 million Thursday by a federal jury that found local authorities denied them public water service for decades out of racial discrimination.
Each of the 67 plaintiffs was awarded $15,000 to $300,000, depending on how long they had lived in the Coal Run neighborhood, about 5 miles east of Zanesville in Muskingum County in east-central Ohio.
The money covers both monetary losses and the residents’ pain and suffering between 1956, when water lines were first laid in the area, and 2003, when Coal Run got public water.
The lawsuit was filed in 2003 after the Ohio Civil Rights Commission concluded the residents were victims of discrimination. The city, county and East Muskingum Water Authority all denied it and noted that many residents in the lightly populated county don’t have public water.
Coal Run residents either paid to have wells dug, hauled water for cisterns or collected rain water so they could drink, cook and bathe.
From 1956 to 2003? You know, then, that means that several people, over long periods of time — well after the age of Jim Crow had officially passed — knew this was going on, and were either alright with it or didn’t see fit to put a stop to it.
From 1956 to 2003.
[Pic via –ReRod- @ Flickr.]