You all remember that Barack Obama made his famous comments about bitter, clingy, racist rural Americans at a posh fund-raiser in the Bay Area — America’s role model of tolerance and understanding.
As more and more black renters began moving into this mostly white San Francisco Bay Area suburb a few years ago, neighbors started complaining about loud parties, mean pit bulls, blaring car radios, prostitution, drug dealing and muggings of schoolchildren.
In 2006, as the influx reached its peak, the police department formed a special crime-fighting unit to deal with the complaints, and authorities began cracking down on tenants in federally subsidized housing.
Now that police unit is the focus of lawsuits by black families who allege the city of 100,000 is orchestrating a campaign to drive them out.
“A lot of people are moving out here looking for a better place to live,” said Karen Coleman, a mother of three who came here five years ago from a blighted neighborhood in nearby Pittsburg. “We are trying to raise our kids like everyone else. But they don’t want us here.”
City officials deny the allegations in the lawsuits, which were filed last spring and seek unspecified damages.
Across the country, similar tensions have simmered when federally subsidized renters escaped run-down housing projects and violent neighborhoods by moving to nicer communities in suburban Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles.
But the friction in Antioch is “hotter than elsewhere,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesman Larry Bush.