Dakota discrimination suit exposes alleged racism in co-op board approval process

February 02, 2011 11:36AM

Alphonse Fletcher and the Dakota (Fletcher photo source: NYT)

A former co-op board president and current resident at the Dakota, the tony Upper West Side building at 1 West 72nd Street on the corner of Central Park West where celebrities like Lauren Bacall and John Lennon have lived, is suing the building for racial discrimination, according to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The suit has revealed instances of alleged blatant racism on the part of the co-op board, in which board members allegedly referred to some applicants using racial slurs during the hush-hush board approval process. The complainant, Alphonse Fletcher Jr., claims in the suit that the board referred to one couple as members of a “Jewish mafia,” and says that co-op members suggested that a Hispanic applicant, who had applied for a first-floor apartment, was interested in the ground-floor unit because it gave him closer proximity to street drugs. Although that applicant’s identity has not been confirmed, sources say that the date and circumstances of the application suggest it was actor Antonio Banderas. Fletcher brought the suit forward after his application to buy an adjacent unit to his own was denied. “This behavior was consistent with the defendants’ extensive pattern of hostility toward nonwhite residents of the building,” the lawsuit says. [NYT]