TULSA, Oklahoma – Denise Morrison is suing the city of Tulsa because she says code enforcement officers destroyed her much needed garden without cause. Morrison said she had over 100 hundred varieties of plants in both her back and front yard. All were edible and had specific purposes. Now, these much needed plants have all been cut down by overzealous and insensitive city workers.
Because Morrison had issues at her last property over code enforcement she says she had been careful to learn what the ordinance calls for. The city ordinance in question stipulates that plants cannot be more 12-inches tall unless they’re used for human consumption. She says she was careful this time to make sure everything she grew was edible.
Before the city workers cut down her plants, Morrison’s front and back yards were filled with flowers in bloom, lemon, stevia, garlic chives, grapes, strawberries, apple mint, spearmint, peppermint, an apple tree, walnut tree, pecan trees and much more. She said she knows which ones will treat arthritis, which will make your food spicy, which ones keep mosquitoes away and treat bug bites, but she said none of that matter to city inspectors.
After receiving a letter from the city saying there had been a complaint about her yard Morrison sought to explain the purpose of her plants. She took pictures to meet with city inspectors but said they wouldn’t listen. Her next step was to invite them to her home so they could point out the problem areas.
“Everything, everything needs to go,” Morrison said they told her. When she heard they wanted to cut everything down, she called police. An officer then issued her a citation so it could be worked out in court. She said she went to court on August 15, and the judge told them to come back in October.
One day after receiving the court date, city workers began cutting down Morrison’s plants. They even cut down some of her trees -– ones that bore fruit and nuts -– and went up next to her house and basically removed everything in her front flower bed. The homeowner protested but said “every word out of their mouth was, ‘we don’t care’”.
“I came back three days later, sat in my driveway, cried and left,” Morrison said.”Not only are the plants my livelihood, they’re my food and I was unemployed at the time and had no food left, no medicine left, and I didn’t have insurance,” Morrison said. “They took away my life and livelihood.” Morrison said she used many of the plants that were destroyed to treat her diabetes, high-blood pressure and arthritis.
When Morrison had her court date for the citation she received last August at another property, it was dismissed. She filed a civil rights lawsuit this week, accusing the inspectors of overstepping their authority. The City of Tulsa said it hasn’t received the lawsuit yet, so it couldn’t comment.