FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MAY 13, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES RACE DISCRIMINATION CLAIM
AGAINST DECATUR, ALABAMA NIGHTCLUB
WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama, today filed a complaint and consent decree in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama resolving its claim that the Freeway Club, a night club in Decatur, Alabama violated Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, by discriminating against African-American patrons.
"No one should be denied access to a place of entertainment or accommodation that is open to the public because of the color of their skin," said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
The complaint alleges that the Freeway Club and its manager Robert Watkins engaged in a pattern and practice of racial discrimination by refusing to admit African Americans to the club on the same terms and conditions on which whites were admitted, including, but not limited to, requiring two forms of picture identification from blacks but not whites, and otherwise discouraging African-Americans from attending the club. The Department of Justice brought its claims under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion in places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and places of entertainment.
"Our office stands ready to enforce the civil rights laws of this nation and the Bush Administration considers civil rights cases a top priority," said Alice Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
The settlement, filed together with a complaint, requires the owner and manager of the Freeway Club to take steps to prevent any future discrimination. Among other requirements, the defendants must obtain training for themselves and their staff about the non-discrimination requirements of Title II and other federal, state, and local civil rights laws; post notification and issue affirmative advertising making clear that the Freeway Club is open to all patrons regardless of race, color, national origin, or religion; and report any future written or oral complaints of discrimination. Several private complainants who were subjected to the racially discriminatory two picture ID admissions policy at the Freeway Club have filed their own separate suit in federal court seeking monetary damages.
More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.