The Anglers Club, which operates on property owned by the city of New Smyrna Beach, Fla. through a $25-a-year, 99-year lease that dates to the 1940s, is accused of racial, gender and religious discrimination in a lawsuit filed by a female resident of the city. The club’s attorney confirmed that almost all members are white males, but contended that private clubs, like fraternities and the Junior League, are allowed to make their own membership rules. The attorney said he did not know if claims of “Robert E. Lee parties” being held at the club were true.
A private yacht club that operates on property owned by the city of New Smyrna Beach, Fla. is accused of racial, gender and religious discrimination in a just-refiled lawsuit, WFTV ABC 9 of Orlando, Fla. reported.
The legal battle is aimed at forcing the city to end its $25-a-year lease with the all-male, almost exclusively white Anglers Club, WFTV reported.
City leaders don’t comment on pending litigation, but they did confirm the lease has not been scheduled for a discussion at any upcoming meetings, WFTV reported. This is despite an outside legal opinion in 2009 that the city could renegotiate the terms of the lease or even attempt to remove the yacht club through an eviction process.
The $25-a-year lease was locked in in the 1940s for at least 99 years, WFTV reported.
The lawsuit, filed by New Smyrna Beach resident Rhonda Kanan, accuses the club of being an “exclusive, discriminatory fishing and boating white-boys club… engaging in numerous acts of racial, religious and sexual discrimination.”
The suit even accuses the private club of holding “Robert E. Lee parties,” WFTV reported. The attorney representing the Anglers said he did not know if the claims of that theme party were true.
“I just feel like there’s no room for racism or discrimination in the world today,” Kanan said. “I feel like the city of New Smyrna Beach and its leaders are actually supporting discrimination. They can say they’re not, but their actions are very clear, they speak volumes.”
Kanan notes in her lawsuit that “because the Anglers discriminate based on sex… she will never become a member and enjoy the publicly-owned property,” WFTV reported.
“Not only should they take a closer look at it, they should do something about it,” Volusia County NAACP President Cynthia Slater said by phone when contacted by WFTV..
Slater said she planned to write a letter on behalf of her chapter to city leaders, asking for the lease to be reviewed. “In this day, with all of the things all these companies and organizations are looking at, the laws and rules and protocols, that needs to change. Shame on the city of New Smyrna Beach,” she said.
During a court hearing in May, the attorney for the Anglers Club argued that private clubs are allowed to make their own membership rules, much like fraternities or the Junior League, WFTV reported. He later confirmed that almost all the members are white males.
The Anglers’ attorney plans to file a motion to dismiss the complaint.
WFTV’s full report can be viewed here: https://www.wftv.com/news/9investigates/new-smyrna-beach-resident-refiles-lawsuit-alleging-private-yacht-club-city-owned-property-has-exclusive-discriminatory-practices/OJFLOTZKVFAWTFLFLJJXU6KG3Y/