Meet Heatheran Kristopher, Cancer Survivor, Small Business Owner, and Patient Activist:
Heatheran spends a lot of her time meeting with cancer patients undergoing treatment and helping them through the process of chemo.
Full disclosure: I know Heatheran personally, and respect the hell out of her for her work with cancer patients.
Last weekend she was evicted because her cancer made her a bad investment in the minds of her landlord. They refused to respect the lease she made with the building's previous owner, and the company's founder, Robert Morganstern, has responded to a federal discrimination lawsuit by calling her a "Sour Grapes Tenant."
All of the news reports agree on the following facts:
When Stone Street Properties took over Heatheran's building, they decided they were going to evict her because she was a cancer survivor. When she fought back, they tried to bully her into accepting a 6-month $3,000 lease or be blacklisted.
Her original lease expired before the new landlord took over, she also paid off everything she owed the previous landlord in full. She renewed her lease with the previous landlord. Stone Street refused to honor her lease with the previous landlord.
Heatheran owed Stone Street no money. She was not in Arrears when they took over the building. When she had cancer, she was unable to work and fell behind on her rent. Icon, the company that owned the building prior to Stone Street, is staffed by actual human beings, and chose to work with her. She entered a payment plan, and paid off the arrears before Stone Street took over. She then negotiated a lease with Icon.
Then Stone Street Properties took over.
She had signed and finalized her lease with the previous landlord, which the stone street then refused to provide her. They then tried to raise her rent 25%, from 2,250 to 3,000.
Robert Morgenstern, the co-founder of Stone Street, came to Heatheran's door one evening and began screaming that she owed him $5,000. Though this was not the case. So began months of harassment on the part of Stone Street. Including threats and attempted eviction. She fought back in court.
The reason they gave her their refusal to renew her lease and attempted eviction was that she was a cancer survivor. They were worried that she might get sick again, and be unable to pay her rent.
She is now suing them in federal court for discrimination.
Quoting from Fox News:
"She’s a sour grapes tenant, who was evicted because she had no lease,” Morgenstern told DNAInsider. He claims he never made a comment about Kristopher’s illness. “I categorically deny any wrongdoing.”It's an interesting statement, that says nothing about why she was evicted. She was evicted "because she had no lease." She had no lease, because Morgenstern thinks cancer survivors are untrustworthy tenants.
Multiple news companies have picked up the report:
NBC New York
Two news stories report false information. They are saying
In September 2011, however, a new management company — Stone Street Properties LLC — took over the building. At the time, Kristopher owed $10,000 in rent.That's factually untrue. Heatheran did not owe anyone any money, which was why the local courts were ruling in her favor and preventing eviction. She felt her best bet was the federal discrimination case, and proceeded on that level.
Apparently, the "Sour Grapes" comment isn't playing very well. Stone Street has hired Crisis Management firm Shea Communications. Its CEO, George Shea was listed by NBC as Stone Street's spokesperson.
"Management was highly sensitive to the tenants illness... any claim of discrimination is untrue, unfair, and deeply unfortunate..." He said to NBC.
Yes, they were very sensitive to her illness. Some might say oversensitive. So sensitive that they became irritated by her illness and wanted her gone because of it.
Now here's where the Crisis Management firm's reaction gets very interesting.
A number of posts have appeared at NBC and Huffpo, and elsewhere all saying very similar things. The posters are using talking points, and making a very specific argument using a very specific tactic.
First, an Inquisitr editor:
Heather Johnson · Top Commenter · Editor at The InquisitrThen others:
She fell $10,000 behind on her rent. Um, sorry, but, if you don't pay your rent, you get evicted. If you can't pay your rent, you should talk to your landlord BEFORE you owe $10,000.
"Yah, sorry shes dealing with cancer but the new landlord was under NO obligation to maintain the previous agreement and this wasn't about her cancer, it was about the fact that she couldn't pay rent. End of story."First, they oversimplify, then they muddy the waters. "SHE DIDN'T PAY RENT!" She did. "WELL SHE WAS LATE!" No, she was responsible, and took part in a payment agreement with the previous landlord. "SOMETHING IS FISHY HERE!!"
"So basically they wanted her out because she previously was delinquent (paid it back) and they urged her to change to a 6 month lease 'just in case'... They wanted to limit their loses the second time around. I'm sorry but property management companies don't care about the reasons WHY you're late, they care about getting paid rent. After a few months of being late or non-payment most places would have started an eviction- let alone for $10,000! Something seems to be missing in this article.. :/"
"i agree , she's not telling the whole story"
Step one, oversimplify. Step two, muddy the waters. These comments are happening on every single story. Some of them are coming from posters who haven't posted anything else ever. They look like sockpuppets.
It's the same tactic we see all the time when the right wing wants to go after something like climate change. It's the same tactic that people are using to create conspiracy theories about sandy hook.
This is the internet. It is entirely possible that the people making these comments are right wing trolls, but when all of the comments use the same talking points and make use of the same tried and true political tactic, it seems highly likely that a savvy New York crisis management firm is bringing out sockpuppets to use against Heatheran.
So here's how you can help Heatheran the most right now: Go to the news stories I linked, and beat back the sockpuppets. Up-rate comments that seem to be from real people. Because whether these are conservative trolls (possible) or a savvy social media company (probable) she needs help beating these bastards back.
I'm in contact with Heatheran personally, and I'll keep you abreast of this story.
On that note, anyone know how to get Fox News to make factual corrections?