- Burhan Chowdhury, 72, of Hamtramck, was issued a citation in May 2021 for not keeping up with the yard work.
The community is rallying behind Burhan Chowdhury, a 72-year-old Bangladeshi American man suffering from cancer who was berated by District Judge Alexis G. Krot of Michigan for ignoring his overgrown lawn. In a widely shared video on the virtual court appearance on Jan. 10, Krot is heard telling Chowdhury that he should be ashamed of himself. “Have you seen that photo? That is shameful.”
Since then, Krot has been facing ire from the community who has made calls for her resignation. A GoFundMe page has been started for the family, as well as an online petition has been issued, and signed by more than 160,000 people.
The petition says that Krot, “shamed” Chowdhury, “spoke over him, and told him he could not use cancer as an excuse.” Noting that Krot has “a history of being bigoted to immigrants,” the petition called for “action from the city of Hamtramck to remove Alexis Krot as a judge.”
A fundraiser has also been started by Laura Patton, an oncology nurse, to help Chowdhury with his lawn care, home maintenance and bills and medical bills. “Any donation will go directly to this gentleman to help him hire the help he needs while he focuses on resting and being with his family,” Patton says on the GoFundMe page.
The Chowdhary family has lived in the Hamtramck home since 2015. Chowdhury was issued a citation in May 2021 for not keeping up with the yard work. Chowdhury’s son Shibbir told CNN that he was in Bangladesh from May to August and wasn’t aware of the ticket until he returned. He immediately made the necessary arrangements to appear in court for the citation, he told CNN. The family cleaned up the property soon after, but Chowdhury still had to make a court appearance to see whether he would have to pay a fine.
At the Jan. 10 virtual court appearance, Chowdhury, who is suffering from lymphoma, was accompanied by Shibbir, who also served as a translator. After the exchange, Shibbir, 44, told The Washington Post that the judge’s reaction was unexpected. “The way she said that my father should serve jail time for this thing really bugged me,” he said. “I was really shocked by it. I didn’t expect her to yell at us in this kind of situation.”
He further told The Post that he believed a neighbor filed a complaint with the city, but he’s not sure. If that’s the case, he says he wishes the neighbor would have just talked to him about the yard themselves before escalating the situation. So far the family hadn’t had any issues with the neighbors, he added.
As the only earning member of the family, who has to take care of everything, Shabbir said mistakes can happen. “I just want these things to never, never happen to anybody else,” he said. “Because that’s what I feel is kind of like racism.”