Local News

Katrina survivor presses charges against neighbor

Posted July 7, 2010 8:22 p.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2010 11:08 p.m. EDT

— After losing everything in Hurricane Katrina, Janice Cargo, 60, relocated to North Carolina. Since 2006, she has lived in a public housing complex outside Lumberton.

“I asked the Lord for a safe haven and peace and this is a safe haven. He gave me this apartment,” Cargo said Wednesday.

But Cargo said a flood of harassment and racial slurs quickly rose from her downstairs neighbor, Shirley Miller. Cargo said she has statements from a half-dozen neighbors to back her up.

“I feel like I stepped out of one disaster and into another,” Cargo said.

Cargo said Miller became so hostile, her daughter was afraid to bring her grandchild back for a visit.

“He don’t know me. He don’t know grandma,” Cargo said.

The alleged harassment reached its peak in 2008 when Cargo said Miller pointed a handgun at her.

Cargo said she took her complaints to the Robeson County Housing Authority. “They were either handed back to me, ignored, brushed off, or the hand was in the face,” she said.

On Wednesday, Miller, 71, was packing up her belongings after being served with an eviction notice. She admits to having a gun because she worries about crime in the area.

“I don’t threaten anybody with anything,” Miller said.

Miller denies making any racial slurs. “If I was black or any other color, I wouldn’t want anyone to slur my name,” she said.

Miller said she has lived in the complex on Oxendine Circle for 26 years in “total peace and harmony” before noise problems started with her upstairs neighbor.

“It sounded like two horses and a wagon up there,” Miller said.

Ronald Oxendine, the director of the Robeson County Housing Authority, said neighbor complaints contributed to Miller’s eviction. He said several witnesses came forward to report her actions over the years.

Oxendine has been housing director since September and declined to comment about the previous administration’s handling of complaints. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into how the county handled the case.

Another factor Miller’s eviction was her possession of a firearm, which is against federal housing policy, Oxendine said. The housing authority confiscated Miller’s .38 caliber gun.

Cargo has pressed misdemeanor charges of racial intimidation against Miller. A court hearing is scheduled Friday.

With the departure of her neighbor, Cargo said she feels some relief. “Day by day, I have to tell myself that it’s over,” she said.