RAPID CITY, SD (Dakota News Now) – The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the owners and operators of the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Sports Lounge and Casino, a sports bar that operates within the hotel, located in Rapid City.
According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants discriminated against Native American customers in violation of Title 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin. Prohibits appearance in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and other places of entertainment. The lawsuit is filed against the corporate owner of Retsel Corporation and two of the company’s directors, Connie Uhre and her son Nicholas Uhre.
In June, one of the shareholders, Judson Uhre, a relative of the family that owns the Gateway Hotel, sued his mother, Connie Uhre, and her brothers, Nick and Chad Uhre, as well as the company that operates the hotel, Retsel Corporation, in Pennington. Judson alleged breach of fiduciary duty, shareholder oppression, and interference with the operation of the hotel.
“Policies that deny Native Americans access to public facilities are both racially discriminatory and illegal,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously protect the rights of all people to go about their daily lives from discrimination in hotels, restaurants and other public accommodations across the country.”
US Attorney Alison J. “Restricting access to a hotel based on a person’s race is prohibited by federal law,” Ramsdell said in the South Dakota District Court. “At the US Attorney’s Office, we have called for equal treatment of people in public housing in South Dakota. We are committed to protecting this fundamental right of Native Americans.”
The lawsuit, filed in South Dakota District Court, alleges that since at least March 20, the Retzel Corporation, Connie Uhre and Nicholas Uhre have discriminated against Native American customers through policies and practices that exclude Native Americans and Native Americans. equal enjoyment of access to services, accommodations and privileges at the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Sports Lounge and Casino.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that Connie Uhre told hoteliers and other Rapid City managers on March 20 that she “didn’t want to allow residents on the property. . . . The problem is that we’re separating the good from the bad.” we don’t know… so we have to say no to them!” That same day, the complaint says, Ms. Uhre posted a statement in a comment thread on her Facebook account announcing that “we will no longer allow any Native Americans. [sic]” at Gateway Grand or at Cheers Sports Lounge and Casino. Another complaint alleges that on at least two occasions, on March 21 and 22, respectively, the defendants turned away Native Americans who wanted to book rooms at the Grand Gateway.
Under Title II, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice can obtain injunctive relief that changes policies and practices to correct discriminatory conduct. Title II does not allow the Department to seek monetary compensation for clients who are victims of discrimination.
More information about the Division of Civil Rights and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals may report discrimination in public accommodations in violation of Title II by calling the Department of Justice at 1-833-591-0291 or by submitting an online report.
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