Panel: 'White only' pool sign is violation
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A landlord who claimed a black girl's hair products clouded a Cincinnati apartment complex's swimming pool discriminated against the child by posting a poolside "White Only" sign, an Ohio civil rights panel said yesterday in upholding a previous finding.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission voted 4-0 against reconsidering its finding from last fall. There was no discussion.
The group found on Sept. 29 that Jamie Hein, who is white, violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign at a pool at the duplex where the teenage girl was visiting her parents.
The parents filed a discrimination charge with the commission and moved out of the duplex to "avoid subjecting their family to further humiliating treatment," the commission said in a release announcing its finding.
In May, Hein posted on the gated entrance to the pool an iron sign that stated "Public Swimming Pool, White Only." She indicated that she posted it because the girl used chemicals in her hair that would make the pool "cloudy," according to the commission.
Hein said she received the sign from a friend, and Ronnell Tomlinson, the commission's housing enforcement director, said at yesterday's hearing it was an antique. The sign says "Selma, Ala.," at the bottom, followed by the date "14 July 31."
The girl's father, Michael Gunn, in brief comments yesterday, described his shock last spring when venturing out for a lunch break by the pool.
"My initial reaction to seeing the sign was of shock, disgust and outrage," Gunn said. He told the commission his daughter was saddened months later to learn the reason they moved from the apartment complex "was in a way related to the color of her skin."
"I was trying to protect my assets," Hein told Tomlinson in a Sept. 27 interview. She did not attend the hearing Thursday.
Cincinnati's population is 45 percent black; the rest of Ohio is about 12 percent black.