Staples Remover

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In early November, a crowd of community advocates gathered at the ritzy law offices of Skadden, Arps for the Alliance for Justice’s “First Monday” event. The annual party, held to coincide with the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court, has a different theme each year; this time, the spotlight was on housing, and on Glen Pearcy’s documentary Bringing Justice Home. Scored by Bruce Springsteen and Simon and Garfunkel, the film is a three-part epic of legislation and litigation, with success stories from rural Washington State, inner-city Chicago, and suburban Montgomery County, Maryland.

But the festive mood quickly dampened when New York limes editorial writer Brent Staples decided to share his personal views on public housing. “I think we should tear them down post-haste, whether or not we have enough housing,” he said. “Deal with the aftermath, but just clear them out.”

Staples did hear out Eva Landeo, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, who trashed his idea as reckless. But he didn’t stick around long enough to hear several guests question the decision to invite him.