October 11, 2002

Central Islip, Federal Court. An African-American family has filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against the Village of Sea Cliff based on race.

On October 10, 2002, the Plaintiffs, Philip and Diana Knox, filed a housing discrimination lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the Village of Sea Cliff and others alleging that the Village discriminated against them on the basis of race in refusing to grant them a variance to extend their home. Five generations of the Knox family have resided in Sea Cliff and they are well-liked and respected within their community.

In February 2001, the Knox family applied to the Village of Sea Cliff for a permit to have a second story added to their home. Even though their plans were in conformity with the Village Code and their neighbors had no objections to their modification plans, the Knox family’s application for a permit was denied (16) months later in June 2002.

Before and during the sixteen month undue delay, the Village of Sea Cliff approved similar applications made by White residents of Sea Cliff, despite those plans being in clear violation of the Code. The Village of Sea Cliff required the Knox family to meet a higher level of scrutiny by forcing them to change their original designs, exhibited skepticism and resistance toward the Plaintiffs. Although the Knox family did what they were asked by the Village and their representatives, they were denied.

Mr. Philip Knox stated, “At first, I hoped that what I was seeing happen to me and my family was not discrimination, after raising the question, being ignored and seeing the proof, I am deeply hurt.”

His wife Diana Knox said, “There is absolutely no reason why our family should be treated like this. When other White residents get the green light to add onto their homes, discrimination based on race should not be a valid red light for my family to be prevented the same right.”

The Plaintiffs in their complaint have requested $9 MILLION DOLLARS in compensatory and punitive damages.

FREDERICK K. BREWINGTON, attorney for the Plaintiffs, characterizes this lawsuit in the following way: “Discrimination in housing is often discreet and goes undetected. We have a constitutional right to own, use and improve property and provide a home for our immediate family. When that right is taken away based on race, the wrongdoers must be held accountable for their discriminatory actions.”