Documentary claims Racine waging war on minority bar owners

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RACINE (WITI) -- A new documentary about the city of Racine has people asking -- will it be an expose or a misleading political tactic?

A documentary making its debut later this month is expected to claim that the city of Racine has waged a war on minority bar owners -- successfully driving them out of business.

"These folks in this town have set civil rights back 50, 60 years," former bar owner Keith Fair says in the documentary.

The filmmaker did not return FOX6's request for comment, but a trailer online features three former Racine bar owners -- claiming the city discriminated against them.

"Other bars had shootings. I never had a shooting.  Other bars had people that get hurt. I never had anybody that got hurt," Wilber Jones -- the owner of Vipers Lounge says in the documentary.

Attorney Vincent Bobot is featured in the documentary. He's represented two Racine bars that are now closed.

"The city of Racine targeted those businesses and they treated them differently than other types of businesses similarly situated," Bobot said.

"We go after people who are breaking the law -- simple as that," Racine Mayor John Dickert said.

Dickert denies race is a factor in which bars are granted licenses -- saying every bar owner is held to the same standards.

He says right now, the city is considering shutting down a bar with a Caucasian owner.

"The ones that have closed down have had numerous problems, over and over and over again," Dickert said.

Alderman Greg Helding says the filmmaker locked horns with the city before.

"He had a failed lawsuit. He had a failed recall attempt against a sitting alderman -- a current alderman and he`s failed to pay his property taxes to the tune of about 136,000 dollars," Helding said.

Bobot calls the documentary a wake up call.

"They are going to be shocked at some of the stuff that's going to be revealed," Bobot said.

The documentary is scheduled to premiere January 20th at the Oriental Theater.

2 comments

  • redacted

    We’re ALL on Racine Uncovered. We ALL know how often the cops are called out to Viper Lounge for the activities there.

  • Lynn Gwyst

    Jenna Sachs did a pretty decent piece on this issue. One interesting bit that needs to be challenged is Racine Mayor Dickert’s assertion that a “Caucasion bar” is currently targeted for closure. The only bar that is currently under scrutiny is the Tropical Paradise Lounge, which is owned and operated by an African-American. There are no other bars scheduled for review on the licensing committee’s agenda. Interestingly, police reports show that there have been more police calls, and of a more serious nature, for an auto parts store just down the street.

    Alderman Helding also fans the fire with a statement about shootings, stabbings and murder at the bars that have been closed. What he neglects to say is that all of this type of activity has also taken place at white owned bars, and much more extensively. One such bar was even the subject of a federal drug raid. White bars remain open, with no meaningful disciplinary action taken against them. I don’t think he understands the meaning of the word discrimination.

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