Racial discrimination allegations: Racine leaders want federal lawsuit tossed as NAACP calls on DOJ

RACINE -- A federal lawsuit claims white city officials in Racine discriminated against minority business owners. Recently released court documents show the city wants the lawsuit thrown out. This, as the president of Milwaukee's NAACP chapter is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate this case.

"To me, that garners the NAACP's attention and it should garner the Department of Justice's attention," Fred Royal with the Milwaukee NAACP said.

The federal lawsuit was filed earlier this year against the city of Racine, alleging it unlawfully targeted minority business owners because of their race.

Those with the group "Racine Equality Project" believe the claim has merit.

"I would be shocked if he didn't allow it to be used in the trial process," Ken Yorgan with the Racine Equality Project said.

However, attorneys for the city are asking that the case be thrown out -- saying in filed court documents: "Plaintiffs' evidence of alleged racially discriminatory intent does not create a genuine issue of material fact."

In an email to FOX6 News on Tuesday, September 29th, Attorney Michael J. Cohen echoed the city's defense held all along, saying: "The defendants continue to believe that the plaintiffs' case is without merit and should be dismissed," adding that the bar owners lost their liquor licenses because of problems, and "their inability to control those problems despite multiple opportunities -- not because of their race or any of the plaintiffs or their patrons."

However, those with the Racine Equality Project say it perceives a destructive racial divide perpetuated by current and former elected officials.

"I think when people start to understand what's going on in their community they are going to be shocked and deeply disturbed and hopefully motivated to do something about it," Yorgan said.

We could know as soon as next week whether the case will actually go to trial.

Last year, a federal judge threw out a similar case, claiming Racine city government officials actively tried to close down minority-owned bars.