City of Racine named as defendant in another lawsuit alleging discrimination

RACINE (WITI) -- The city of Racine has found itself named as a defendant in another lawsuit alleging discrimination.

What was at one time the Women's Club of Racine is now the subject of a lawsuit.

James Hall Jr. says in 2012, his client, J.C. Frazier and Northwest Funeral Chapel wanted to obtain a conditional use permit to purchase the property at 740 Lake Avenue in Racine and operate a funeral home.

"You got your architect, your traffic engineer. You meet the conditions of the Planning Commission. He thought that that would have been sufficient," Hall said.

But at a meeting of Racine's Common Council, Frazier, an African-American man, was denied a permit.

"Shortly after, another business -- in fact, another funeral home, a white-owned funeral home, purchased the business and has been using it for operations, including activities in connection with its funeral business," Hall said.

The property's current owners own and operate Maersh-Meredith and Acklam Funeral Home -- located across the street. They say they haven't obtained a conditional use permit for the property, known as a preservation hall, because they are not using it in the same manner Frazier had intended.

"As far as a connection to the funeral home, when we have funerals across the street, we do invite people over here if they have a luncheon reception. We run it as a hall. Couple weddings, bridal showers, have a couple baby showers. We had the 'Miss Racine' pageant. Weren't planning to be in the hall business, but it just ended up that way, and we're gonna make the best of it,"

Racine Mayor John Dickert tells FOX6 News he hasn't seen the lawsuit, but that it has arrived in the Racine City Attorney's Office for review.

A separate lawsuit filed recently claims white city officials in Racine, including Mayor John Dickert discriminated against minority business owners. Lawyers have claimed during the investigation, racist words were found thousands of times on city-owned computers. Many of the words, city officials claim, were found in contexts where they weren't offensive.