A 93-year-old grandmother is fighting a lawsuit from a property developer, who she says is trying to force her to sell her home, which has been in her family since the Civil War.
Josephine Wright, a native of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is being sued by Bailey Point Investment Group for encroaching on their land and blocking their progress in developing a 147-unit resort next to her property.
Developers made offers to buy Wright’s property, but when she refused, they launched a campaign of harassment that included slashing her tires, throwing trash on her property, and even hanging a snake from her window, she says.
“I guess they thought I would get so pissed off with the harassment that I would say take it. But they don’t know me. I’m here to fight for what I have,” Wright said.
The property has belonged to the Wright family since just after the Civil War.
Josephine Wright, originally from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, says she is being forced off her land
Wright is backed by former state legislator Bakari Sellers
Her husband was a Gullah Geechee Islander whose parents were runaway slaves freed by Union soldiers.
Bailey Point claims they own part of the land Wright’s property sits on, even his front porch.
Wright and his supportive neighbors say his property is actually 22 feet from the Bailey Point border.
“I don’t want to say anything that can be used against me, but I think they’re unscrupulous and greedy and they want all the property they can get their hands on,” Wright said.
“I just want to keep my property and have them leave me alone,” she said at a press conference on Thursday.
Wright has now assigned a lawyer, Bluffton-based attorney Roberts Vaux, to fight the case.
She also received support from former state legislator Bakari Sellers and the NAACP.
The vendors initially attempted to open a dialogue with the development company regarding the situation but received no response.
“I just want to keep my property and have them leave me alone,” Wright told reporters on Thursday.
The property has belonged to the Wright family since just after the Civil War
Wright’s husband was a Gullah Geechee Islander whose parents were runaway slaves freed by Union soldiers and moved to property
Bailey Point claims they own part of the land Wright’s property sits on, even his porch
Bailey Point Investment Group for encroaching on their land and blocking their progress in developing a 147-acre unit plan next to the historic Wright property
Wright’s granddaughter Charise Graves supports her 93-year-old grandmother in the fight to keep her property
“Perhaps more disrespectful than a no is a no answer,” Sellers told reporters.
Wright’s situation is not unique, and many other black landowners on the island have been forced to sell their property over the years. according to the Island Packet.
Gullah landowners in particular saw their share of island land reduced to a fraction of private ownership, although they were among the first to settle there permanently after the civil war.
Sellers told reporters that “there is a concerted effort to take ownership from black people in our community, who have lived a good life.”
“It’s about generational wealth, it’s very difficult to obtain. It’s about land ownership, it’s about heir ownership, which we know we’re dealing with a lot here,” he explained.
Charise Graves, Wright’s granddaughter, told reporters of the disruption her elderly grandmother has had to endure over the past year: “Unbeknownst to us, they just started cutting down trees.
“Our house was shaking like it was an earthquake. They didn’t even have the decency to let us know this was happening.
The lawsuit is still in the discovery phase, and Wright’s family has commissioned an independent investigation to see if the alleged encroachment crosses the plot line.
Wright claims his porch has about 22 feet of space between its end and the property line.
A Go to Fund Me page set up to help Wright cover his legal fees raised more than $37,000 Saturday morning.