Lawsuit filed against Rapid City hotel for alleged discrimination of Native Americans
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the owners and operators of the Grand Gateway Hotel, and Cheers Sports Lounge and Casino, a sports bar that operates within the Rapid City hotel.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants discriminated against Native American customers in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin in places like hotels or other entertainment venues.
According to a release from the Justice Department, the suit is brought against the corporate owner, Retsel Corporation, and two of the company’s directors, Connie Uhre and her son, Nicholas Uhre. It says they discriminated against Native American customers through policies and practices that denied Native Americans the “full and equal enjoyment of access to the services, accommodations and privileges” at the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Sports Lounge since at least March 20.
“Policies prohibiting Native Americans from accessing public establishments are both racially discriminatory and unlawful. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously protect the rights of all people to go about their daily lives free from discrimination at hotels, restaurants, and other public accommodations around the country,” said Kristen Clarke, assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
“Restricting access to a hotel based on a person’s race is prohibited by federal law,” said Alison J. Ramsdell, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota. “At the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we are called to ensure that individuals are treated equally at public accommodations in South Dakota. We are committed to protecting that fundamental right for Native Americans.”
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