TULSA, Oklahoma - A Tulsa woman is suing the city's code enforcement officers after she said they cut down her garden with no cause.
Denise Morrison said she has more than 100 plant varieties in her front and back yards and all of them are edible and have a purpose.
She knows which ones will treat arthritis, which will make your food spicy, which ones keep mosquitoes away and treat bug bites, but she said none of that matter to city inspectors.
Last August, Morrison's front and back yards were filled with flowers in bloom, lemon, stevia, garlic chives, grapes, strawberries, apple mint, spearmint, peppermint, an apple tree, walnut tree, pecan trees and much more.
She got a letter from the city saying there had been a complaint about her yard.
She said she took pictures to meet with city inspectors, but they wouldn't listen, so she invited them to her home so they could point out the problem areas.
"Everything, everything needs to go," Morrison said they told her.
When she heard they wanted to cut it all down, she called police. The officer issued her a citation so it could be worked out in court.
She said she went to court on August 15, and the judge told them to come back in October. But the very next day, men were cutting down most of her plants.
They even cut down some of her trees -– ones that bore fruit and nuts -– and went up next to her house and basically removed everything in her front flower bed.
"I came back three days later, sat in my driveway, cried and left," Morrison said.
Morrison said she had a problem at her last property with code enforcement, so this time, she read the ordinance, which says plants can't be over 12-inches tall unless they're used for human consumption. She made sure everything she grew could be eaten, which she told the inspectors.
"Every word out of their mouth was, 'we don't care,'" Morrison said.
Morrison said she used many of the plants that were destroyed to treat her diabetes, high-blood pressure and arthritis.
"Not only are the plants my livelihood, they're my food and I was unemployed at the time and had no food left, no medicine left, and I didn't have insurance," Morrison said. "They took away my life and livelihood."
Morrison finally went to court last week for the citation she got last August at another property. The garden portion of the citation was dismissed and she pleaded no contest to having an inoperable truck in her driveway.
She filed a civil rights lawsuit this week, accusing the inspectors of overstepping their authority.
The City of Tulsa said it hasn't received the lawsuit yet, so it couldn't comment.
This is just outrageous! What is the matter with this town's leadership?! We have local farmer's markets (several) and buy local programs, but home gardening for one's own use is frowned upon? WHY?!! Who was she hurting? No one.
I don't know. I'm at the end of my rope with this.
Again, it is fine with me if this thread dies again, it is not my intent to bear an axe. I just want there to be some record in the tomes of the Internet that there is at least one person in tulsa willing to start looking around and calling things as they are. This town has a history of racism and you are being blind and ignorant if you think those issues are gone. Just because you say it's gone doesn't make it so. It's sad and tiring to me how many people on every side of the fence sit around and say, " it's your fault"
I understand that out in the suburbs where there is 80+ percent white population it is easy to lose touch with these issues. If your race made up 4 percent of the population you would most likely not feel very gung ho to draw attention to yourself and demand fair treatment. In midtown the issues are alive and potent if you open your eyes.
Yeah, bull crap.
Her lawyer encouraged her to put the garden in, even bigger, and force a show down, so who knows if this is the end of the story...
Because of this story I have documented very well what parts of my property are tended garden beds, both with photo and video. when I was under fire I literally was about to post signs in my yard labeling the tended areas with a warning that violators would be prosecuted. When I spoke to the inspector he called my lambsquarter tall grass. I told him about how it is related to quinoa and how I eat it, And how that area was a well tended garden, he just said oh I did not know that. I was very polite and direct with him that I was willing to do whatever in order to be legal and get to keep my crops. He seemed a little overwhelmed by my attention to detail and I ended up only having to remove some dead plants that were in the alley to soak up road ick.
Same thing when dealing with animal control and my chickens. I called them and wanted all the details when I got cited for illegally keeping my rooster, including everyone's name who I spoke to. I quoted the title and section that gave me the right and made sure they knew I was within the law. when they said I was abiding by it I told them that was on record, they would be accountable if someone else came around trying to " abate a nuisance". Nothing happened.
Am I able to continue my practices because I know the law and am well spoken, or is because I am a white guy ? I wish it were the former, I hope it is the former.
Thanks for the link Troy.
Troy Rhodes wrote:These days, you just about have to have a body camera with audio to record your interaction with city and code enforcment officials, because what actually transpires is often different from what they say happened that day.
Sad, but true for most people. Certain agencies have raised it to an art form that makes used car salesmen blush.