As a third heated confrontation commenced on the sidewalk, the cops had to figure out who was telling the truth—and where an evicted couple would spend the night.
That was the scene Thursday evening in the Hill. A housing dispute that began in the aftermath of a mid-June shooting came to a boil.
The shooting, which left the victim in critical condition, took place inside a one-and-a-half-story 1,030-square-foot clapboard house at 154 Frank St. (pictured). Inspectors from city government’s anti-blight agency, the Livable City Initiative (LCI), arrived at the house the next day. They found evidence that too many people lived there, in violation of rules that limit rooming houses to four unrelated adults. In addition to four tenants on the first and second floors, it appeared two people were staying in the basement. LCI inspector Tomas Reyes issued a report ordering the landlord, Kelly Moye, to fix multiple violations, from clearing trash from the yard and repairing broken toilets and flooring to installing an overflow discharge pipe. And Reyes gave Moye six hours to “cease and desist” from using both the basement and a backyard garage as “living space.”
That was June 18.
Fast forward to the afternoon Thursday, July 31.
Jeanette Arnold (pictured) came home to 154 Frank to find her belongings stuffed in trash bags in the back yard. Well, most of her belongings.
She found the garage door padlocked. She found a door inside the house leading to the basement padlocked. She and her partner had been living in the garage for the past six or seven months, she said, paying Moye rent. She said she paid Moye, who lives around the corner and owns six properties in the immediate neighborhood, $250 a month out of the $900 or so she receives in disability payments and food stamps. She said Moye deducted another $250 or so out of money he owed her partner, Glenford Jackson, for doing painting and other work on his properties. Moye refused to give them receipts, she said.
A few days ago, she said, Moye had ordered the couple out of the garage and into the basement apartment. She didn’t like that apartment. “It smelled mildewy,” she said. “There’s a lot of electrical wires hanging.” Roaches and centipedes crawled all over her, she said.
And the first-floor bathroom (pictured) they shared with the other tenants was nasty.
Then, on Thursday morning, the electricity was cut off.
She explained the situation to activists at the nearby Amistad Catholic Worker House on Rosette Street, where she goes to eat breakfast. With their help she summoned an LCI inspector to the house on Thursday. According to Arnold and Gregory Williams of the Amistad Catholic Worker House, an LCI inspector arrived at the house, checked it out, saw that the problems remained, and ordered Moye to find Arnold and her husband another place to stay by 6 p.m.
As 6 p.m. approached, Moye was nowhere to be found. The activists phoned the police. As they waited, Arnold and the activists walked to Moye’s home on Truman Street. Arnold fumed that she was certain her TV and DVD player were missing from the trash left in the bags. “We had good DVDs!” she said, including Iron Man, Spiderman, and a two-disc set about the Kennedy assassination.
Moye wasn’t home. Other members of his family were. A shouting match ensued. (Click on the video to watch.)
“Get the hell away from the door!” one man shouted. Moye’s wife asked the group to leave.
After some back and forth, the group complied and returned to 154 Frank St. Moye soon pulled up in a Dakota 4x4.
Moye told a different story. He said Arnold never lived there. Or wasn’t supposed to. He said a “family” lives inside the house. He eventually said that Glenford Jackson did occasionally stay in the house. But that he never paid any rent. He claimed he told him not to allow Arnold in the house, but that he would “sneak” her in after dark.
He called Jackson on a cell phone. He offered the phone to a reporter, to have Jackson verify the story. Jackson was told that Moye said he and his partner hadn’t been living at the house or garage for six months and hadn’t paid him any money.
“That’s a lie,” Jackson said. He said he was en route to the house.
A shouting match ensued between Arnold and Moye, with Williams getting a few licks in, too. (Click on the video to watch highlights.)
“Don’t tell me what I did! I won’t hear it” Moye demanded. (He refused to speak much with Williams, dismissing him as “retarded.”)
“You want to keep it real? I’m gonna keep it real as it get!” Arnold yelled at Moye. “Don’t lie to me, Mr. Kelly! You are a liar, OK? You wouldn’t even put your own daughter in a fucking place like that!”
“I didn’t put you there! Who put you there?”
Williams suggested that Moye was responsible, as the paid landlord, for Arnold staying in the house.
“Show me a receipt!” Moye responded.
At first Moye told a reporter he had no idea who had padlocked the garage and inside doors, or why. Then he said LCI had told him he had to close the basement, so he ordered “Joe,” a man who works for him, to change the locks.
It turned out Joe—Joe Bush (pictured), who does work for Moye and other landlords—was up the block, watching from a distance. He seconded Moye’s version, calling the couple problem tenants who were allegedly trying to live in the house for free. Bush said he did padlock the doors. He didn’t cop to taking out the couple’s belongings.
He said he lives in 154 Frank. He said the tenants are unrelated, not a family.
Police Officers Keron Bryce and Osvaldo Garcia arrived at the scene. More officers followed.
So did Glenford Jackson, who by this time was fully on his partner’s side, not his landlord/employer’s. Moye vowed repeatedly to anyone who would listen that he plans to evict all the tenants and bring in people “on Section 8,” the federally subsidized rent program.
By this time Moye had gone home and retrieved the LCI report that Reyes had given him, listing all the violations at the house and ordering him to fix them. All the deadlines had passed. Asked by a reporter about some of the individual violations, Moye said he had known nothing about them.
Moye greeted the officers by showing him a badge—from when he briefly served as a city cop in the early 1980s. Before that, he was a housing authority cop. Before that he tried for years to become a cop, to no avail; instead he became a police informant, spying on the Black Panther Party. He ended up playing a key role in New Haven’s most celebrated murder case, the 1969 torture-killing of party member Alex Rackley. Moye kept his role as informant secret (he had lent the Panthers his car to carry out the killing) for 35 years. (Click here to read a full story about that.)
Soon the neighborhood’s top cop, District Manager Lt. Nick Marcusio (at left center in photo), joined the scene at 154 Frank. He remembered well the recent shooting there and the subsequent LCI inspection.
“We shut you down, now you had them in the basement again!” he told Moye.
Their back-and-forth grew heated. (Click on the video at the top of the story to watch highlights.)
“LCI came out here a month and a half ago. Did they not tell you you you can’t have people in the basement?” Marcusio asked.
“Definitely,” Moye responded. ” They ‘re not supposed to be here.”
“So why are they down here again?”
“Do they have a receipt?”
“Are you even checking your property?”
“Hear me out! I do. Hear me out”
“So why were they in your house?”
“I’ve been in the hospital four weeks. Four weeks…”
“They’re the same people who got kicked out of your garage.”
While Moye’s story had holes in it, Arnold and Jackson were missing a crucial piece of leverage—any documentation that they had a right to live in the house, or that they had paid rent.
That became clear when LCI inspector Jacqueline Outlaw arrived on the scene. She spoke to all parties. She convinced Moye to have the couple’s belongings returned indoors and to find the couple another place to sleep that night. While Arnold and Jackson lacked leverage, LCI had leverage: the agency is expected to return to inspect the property, and Moye needs to be on their good side.
Everyone left satisfied with the compromise, Marcusio said later.
Reached at home later Thursday night, Moye said the compromise had broken down. He said he offered the couple a room in a house on Truman Street. But he insisted they sign a paper saying they’d leave by 9 a.m., and they refused, he said. The couple could not be reached for comment about where they ended up for the night.