BALTIMORE (WJZ)–The Baltimore Housing Authority sex-for-repairs scandal has prompted a call for the mayor to fire Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano.
Pat Warren reports, the anti-sexism activists are taking their protest to the streets.
Two rolling billboards are on the street asking why the Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano hasn’t been fired after women in public housing reported they were coerced by maintenance men for sex in exchange for repairs to their homes.
The national anti-sexism group Ultra Violet put the billboards out there, part of a campaign the group says includes a signed petition and 2500 phone calls.
“By standing with Graziano, the mayor is sending the message that she’s fine with rape and abuse going unchecked under her administration,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet. “In order for women living in Baltimore public housing to feel safe, Graziano must go! We’re asking that Mayor Rawlings-Blake do the right thing and fire him.”
Earlier this month, the city settled a class action lawsuit brought by 19 women for roughly $7 million dollars.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has resisted calls to remove Graziano.
Ultra Violet says over 35,000 UV members have signed a petition and more than 2,500 calls have been made to demand the firing.
The group claims Graziano knew about the allegations for years, but he told WJZ in September he’d just found out about it.
Letters were sent residents at the time, but made little impression.
“We shouldn’t have to receive papers in the mail about sexual harassment from people who are supposed to be helping with our living conditions,” said one resident.
“Women can’t be safe under his leadership and he’s gotta go,” says an Ultra Violet spokesperson.
In a statement the housing commissioner says we took the strongest disciplinary actions possible against the three named perpetrators and have made sweeping changes to ensure all residents live in peace and dignity.
The mayor’s office tells WJZ commissioner Graziano still has the support of the mayor and the housing authority’s tenant’s council.