Another lawsuit alleging racial discrimination has been filed in federal court against the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City.
Shawnee resident Arthur Brown, a 55-year-old African American, says that on Oct. 26, 2014, he was watching the World Series between the Royals and San Francisco Giants on Power & Light’s Jumbotron with thousands of other fans.
He says he bought a drink or two at the outdoor bar of The Dubliner restaurant and then went inside to use the restroom. When he came out, he alleges, three men confronted him, cursed at him and called him racial epithets. The lawsuit says the men were employees of The Dubliner or First Response, a firm that provides security for the district.
Brown says he complained to two nearby police officers, one of whom turned out to be an off-duty cop working for First Response. He says the officers then handcuffed him, led him up to the Power & Light security office and chained him to a bench. They handed him a document and told him they’d let him go if he signed it. Brown refused, saying it contained multiple false statements about him.
Eventually the officers charged him with trespassing and handed him a notice barring him from returning to the district, according to the lawsuit.
Nick Benjamin, a vice president with the Power & Light District, said in an email that Brown’s claims lacked merit and were previously dismissed by a state court judge.
“Moreover,” he said, “not only do we believe these allegations are without merit, they are also strictly limited to a third-party tenant and a third-party security company, not the Power & Light District.”
Besides the Power & Light District, the lawsuit names The Dubliner, First Response and three individual defendants.
Lynn Bratcher, Brown’s attorney, said Brown’s previous court action was thrown out of Jackson County Circuit Court because his attorney in that case had not responded to discovery requests.
“It was not about the merits of the case,” she said, adding that the new lawsuit makes different legal claims.
Brown’s lawsuit is at least the third to accuse the district of racial discrimination. The others were dismissed, but a federal appeals court revived one of the claims last year. That claim is scheduled to go to trial in a few months.
The Power & Light District’s owner, The Cordish Companies of Baltimore, Maryland, was at the center of earlier allegations that it discriminated against black patrons through its enforcement of a dress code. Cordish denied the allegation but modified it and settled a complaint filed by The Kansas City Human Relations Department in 2010.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.