NAACP questions Milwaukee contracting compliance


The NAACP has asked the U.S. Justice Department to see if the City of Milwaukee is violating civil rights laws through apparent disparities in contracts to minority and women-owned businesses.

The NAACP says it’s been urging Milwaukee to take a closer look at its contract procurement system, beyond the studies the city has paid for over the last 20 years. But the civil rights group says the city has been unwilling to do more. NAACP Milwaukee chapter president James Hall says it’s clear that minority-owned firms are not getting a fair share of city contracts.

Hall says since Milwaukee receives federal funds, the city has to comply with part of the Civil Rights Act that bans people from being excluded from federally-assisted programs based on their race, color or national origin. Hall hopes the Justice Department investigates the claims and orders changes, such as happened in St. Paul a few years ago. Ruben Hopkins of the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce says the NAACP’s complaint is about fairness.

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A spokesperson for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett referred questions to the city attorney’s office, which did not respond to a request for comment.