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Former Racine tavern owners file another civil rights lawsuit

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Minority owners of five former Racine taverns are trying again to win a federal lawsuit which claims that a conspiracy drove them out of business.

The tavern owners filed suit in federal court in Milwaukee, alleging that city officials and the local tavern league violated their civil rights. A similar suit was thrown out last month.

Federal Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said the original claims were too broad and vague -- but he said the allegations might have merit, and he allowed the plaintiffs to enter a clarified complaint.

Among other things, the minority bar owners said the city "waged war" on them since 2006 over crime at their establishments -- while ignoring similar conduct at bars owned and patronized by whites.

The suit claimed that minority-owned taverns vanished from downtown Racine by the end of last year. It also alleged that officials took bribes and filed false campaign reports.

The new lawsuit has fewer defendants. They include Mayor John Dickert, ex-Mayor Gary Becker, a former police chief, City Council members, the Racine Tavern League, various business owners, and the head of the Downtown Racine Corporation.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)