By Kathleen Vanesian
By Amy Silverman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Jim Louvau
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Benjamin Leatherman
By New Times
By Becky Bartkowski
John Miranda is not a racist. The 68-year-old former Marine insists he posted a sign reading "For Sale to Whites Only" in front of his Waddell home because he wants to protect future owners of the property from racism. Miranda is leaving his Clearwater Farms neighborhood because he says the property owners' association won't bother to respond to a dispute over a ditch dug near his property. Miranda says he's being ignored because he's "just a Mexican." No matter that the POA board includes a Hispanic member, or that the sign he posted makes Miranda look like a bigot himself. He's a man with a mission, and it's not about real estate.
New Times: You're selling your house. And you put up a "For Sale to Whites Only" sign. What were you thinking?
John Miranda: I built this house in 1999. And after I built it, some guy built that house [next door] and he dug this ditch, and I called the [property owners'] association to complain, and what they told me is, "We're not cops."
NT: How insolent!
Miranda: You know it. I'm paying $300 a year for that kind of treatment? No way. So I called the accountant for the association, and he told me he'd call me back. And nothing. When I finally got him on the phone, he said the POA isn't responsible. But he never returned any of my calls.
NT: The nerve!
Miranda: Yeah. So I put the house up for sale. I'm selling it because of harassment. I go to dialysis three times a week. I had open-heart surgery last year. I don't need this damn harassment. I need to get the hell out of here and go to someplace peaceful and quiet, and that's not here.
NT: But what's this thing about selling the house to white people?
Miranda: Well, I was putting up my For Sale sign, and I thought, "I'm gonna put them on the ropes. Let them answer some questions." So I put the "whites only" sign up, and the neighbors and other people around here went to the POA and said, "Can't you do something about this?" And the president of the POA said, "No. He has every right to put that sign up." Which is bullshit. Because it's against the law to put up a sign like that.
NT: And what happened next?
Miranda: I explained [everything] to the attorney general, and she was really nice, she came and talked to me, a very wonderful lady, she was just gorgeous.
NT: But the attorney general is a man.
Miranda: He is?
NT: Pretty much, yeah.
Miranda: Well, it must have been a secretary or something. Anyway, I explained to her why the sign went up, and she was real nice.
NT: You put the sign up because you want to make sure that other people aren't discriminated against?
Miranda: Yes. My conscience has to be clean. If I sold this house to a Mexican, I would have to explain to that Mexican the reason I'm selling. And these notices from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. [Someone] called up and filed a complaint, and they're investigating me for animal cruelty. And they came out here and they found nothing. Plenty of water, plenty of grass for the horses.
NT: It says right here on the notices that they found the animals well cared for.
Miranda: It's harassment! I think it must be from the association, but I don't have any proof. And then the livestock inspector came out. It's been one after another.
NT: And you're saying it's not about your horses, it's about the color of your skin?
Miranda: It's a prejudice deal.
NT: How are you being discriminated against?
Miranda: I had trash in the yard and I burned it. They sent me a letter of complaint. That's bullshit. And then the next thing I know, they went to the zoning department and filed a complaint that I had built an Arizona room in the back of my house. And I had to tear it down, because I didn't have permission to build. It's harassment. I'm fed up. I spent $2,000 filling that ditch in.
NT: And what would you like the association to do for you?
Miranda: I would greatly appreciate it if they would reimburse me [for filling in the ditch]. They're at fault. They should also learn to listen to complaints. I filed a complaint, and their attorney told me that if I lose the case, I'm going to have to pay all the legal fees.
NT: Well, yes. That's sort of how it works. I read that the attorney general had a formal complaint against you.
Miranda: No. Not at all. They were tickled pink that I was willing to sit down and talk with them about this. Now it's up to me to prove to the courts that [the POA] is bigots. Because I'm not going to let them go. I'm Mexican. My dad came from Guadalajara.
NT: You're standing up for your rights.
Miranda: That's exactly what I'm saying. I feel like I'm being pushed out of my neighborhood. What would you think? You're a white person. If you'd come in here, built a house, a pasture for your horses, and your neighborhood association was a bunch of Mexicans who tried to run you out, what the hell you gonna think?