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Ohio landlord wants commission to reconsider ruling on 'white only' sign

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:04 PM EST, Thu January 12, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jamie Hein is asking the state civil rights commission to reconsider its ruling
  • The commission has previously ruled Hein violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act
  • Hein put up a "Public Swimming Pool, White Only" sign at her pool
  • A former tenant says the sign was put up after his biracial daughter swam in the pool

(CNN) -- A landlord wants the Ohio Civil Rights Commission on Thursday to reconsider its finding that she violated the law by posting a "white only" sign at her swimming pool.

Jamie Hein has asked the commission to reverse its initial ruling that found she violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act by putting up a sign that read "Public Swimming Pool, White Only" at her Cincinnati duplex.

The commission, meeting this week in Columbus, concluded last year that the sign "restricts the social contact between Caucasians and African Americans as well as reinforcing discrimination actions that are aimed at oppressing all 'people of color.'"

The case was brought by Michael Gunn, a white man who said had unrestricted access to the pool area for himself and his guests during the nearly two years he lived in the duplex, he said in a December interview.

Gunn, a software engineer, said he and his girlfriend, who is also white, lived upstairs; their 31-year-old landlord lived downstairs. However, he said their relationship soured in May 2011 when he invited his 10-year-old biracial daughter to visit and swim in the pool.

"Complainant states that the owner, Jamie Hein, accused his daughter of making the pool 'cloudy' because she used chemicals in her hair," the commission said in its summary. "Days later, the owner posted a sign on the gate to the pool which read, 'Public Swimming Pool, White Only.'"

Hein said she received the sign from a friend and posted it in early May, the summary says. Several people interviewed by the commission staff confirmed that they had seen the sign, it added.

Hein did not respond to a request for comment at the time. But she told ABC News in December that she collects antiques. She said the sign, which was dated 1931 and from Alabama, was a gift from a friend.

"I don't have any problem with race at all. It's a historical sign," she told ABC.

Gunn said he was outraged by the sign and made arrangements to find another place to live as soon as he could.

"We were extremely upset and moved out on June 21, 2011, in order to not expose my daughter to the sign and the humiliation of the message," Gunn wrote in his complaint.

He said he never confronted Hein about the matter, but has no doubt that the sign was intended for his daughter.

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