Marketing is key. He paid $100 for three magnetic signs now affixed to his extended-cab, 4-wheel drive truck that read: “I paid my child support. But then I was robbed by the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement. To report robbery and fraud by DCSE call 387-0857.”
Last week, El began a curbside campaign outside the state’s social services offices on Broad Street. He handed out fliers lambasting the agency.
A spokesperson with the Virginia Department of Social Services says he has not heard of El nor his claims and protests, and referred questions to Commissioner Maurice Jones, whose office referred Style to its public affairs office, which could not be reached by press time.
For his part, El says he’ll drive around Richmond and hold protests everywhere from the State Capitol to the Office of the Attorney General. Then he hopes to generate enough information to “file a classification lawsuit” against DCSE, he says.
“I’m sick of guys like myself getting jammed up for contempt,” El says. El, an unemployed telecommunications technician, is no stranger to lawsuits. And he appears to know how to win them. He’s filed discrimination complaints against numerous former employers. Two of them settled instead of battling it out in court. El won big, he says, but declines to say how much, citing confidentiality clauses.
El contends that since he started paying child support for his two children in 1986, the state has inflated arrearage amounts while he was unemployed, overcharged him interest and issued “noncompliance” complaints in order to pad its figures for collecting in child support cases. He says the enforcement agency discriminates against black men. And he says the office held him responsible for continued child support after one of his children died. (His daughter was killed in a car accident in 1991; his son is now an adult.)
El has spent months perusing the Internet for information he thinks could help him win his case. “I’m getting pretty good as a lawyer,” he says. And he says the magnetic signs are starting to prompt some calls.
“You know that $100 I spent on the signs — I could have done something else with,” he says, then seems to reconsider: “But this could turn into a whole big political thing.” — Brandon Walters
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