Federal judge dismisses lawsuit by man suing city of Lawrence; same day he used the N-word to insult Lawrence mayor at meeting | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo taken by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Phillip Michael Eravi is pictured during his hearing on December 11, 2023, in Douglas County Circuit Court.

Updated at 10:11 on Wednesday, July 10

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the city of Lawrence and others filed by a man who claims his First Amendment rights were trampled when he was kicked out of a city-supported homeless camp in North Lawrence last year. On Tuesday, the same day the motion to dismiss the lawsuit was filed, the man angrily used the N-word to disparage the mayor of Lawrence at a public meeting.

As reported by the Journal-World, the plaintiff, Michael Eravi, admitted in February that his lawsuit lacked facts to support his claims and asked Judge Julie Robinson for permission to amend the complaint.

Robinson on Tuesday denied such permission and dismissed Eravi’s lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it cannot be re-filed.

The city, which successfully sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, argued that Eravi’s lawsuit should be dismissed because the city had every right to restrict access to the homeless encampment, which it described as a “non-public forum,” and that there was probable cause for trespassing by Eravi, who had received multiple warnings not to enter the encampment.

Eravi often speaks publicly at government meetings and openly criticizes the police. He has had several conflicts with the police in recent years, including at numerous city commission meetings, where he repeatedly used profanities against the city’s police chief.

On Tuesday night, during public comment at the Lawrence City Commission meeting, Eravi lashed out at Mayor Bart Littlejohn, saying that as a black man, he should have done more to protect Eravi’s civil rights. Eravi also used the word “colored” to describe black commissioners and then repeatedly used the N-word to scold the mayor, including telling Littlejohn, “I’m not your (N-word) business, b*tch.” Ultimately, Littlejohn asked the police to remove Eravi, and the commission briefly adjourned as Eravi threatened another lawsuit.

The Journal-World has contacted city officials for comment on the incident that occurred at Tuesday’s meeting.

Last summer, City Manager Craig Owens notified Eravi that he had been banned from attending city meetings for 60 days after exhibiting “threatening and harassing behavior,” including telling two commissioners that he knew where they lived. Owens said in the letter that the ban came after Eravi was asked to leave or removed from city meetings “no fewer than five times.” Owens said at the time that Eravi was still allowed to attend meetings virtually.

“The city is committed to maintaining a safe space to conduct important community business and allow members of the public to participate,” Owens said in the letter, dated Aug. 21, 2023.

Eravi is currently facing a charge of aggravated obstruction of law enforcement after he allegedly forced officers from protected positions during an armed confrontation in May 2023, the Journal-World reported.