The Angler’s Yacht Club is being sued for allegedly denying memberships to minorities and women.
The lawsuit, which was filed by New Smyrna Beach real estate broker Rhonda J. Kanan, accuses the club of all white men of discriminating by not admitting people of color, Jewish people or women and for holding Robert E. Lee parties.
“The Anglers has existed as an exclusive and discriminatory fishing and boating boys club through the decades,” the lawsuit states. “Persons of color, women and persons of the Jewish faith have always been excluded.”
The city of New Smyrna Beach, which has maintained a controversial 99-year lease with the Anglers allowing the club to rent 2 acres of prime waterfront land at 2 N. Causeway along the Indian River for just $25 a year, is also named in the lawsuit.
Kanan has never applied to become a member at Angler’s Yacht Club but she was rejected by another group of mariners in town, the Smyrna Yacht Club.
Kanan’s attorney, Patrick C. Crowell, suggested that the Anglers may have infected her application to the Smyrna Yacht Club.
“Some of the Anglers may, in effect, have black balled her from the Smyrna Yacht Club,” Crowell said.
Kanan said that she checked into the Anglers after she was denied admission to the Smyrna Yacht Club. She then learned about all the issues and decided to take action.
Michael Brewer, a retired attorney who is a member of the Anglers Yacht Club, believes Kanan was just lashing out because she was rejected by the Smyrna Yacht Club.
Brewer said that the Angler’s Yacht Club doesn’t discriminate based on race, color or creed or religious preferences. He said that there’s no black members, but there were a couple members of Hispanic descent.
“The fact that we don’t have a black member doesn’t mean that we discriminate against them,” Brewer said.
Brewer did admit, however, that the club doesn’t accept women members and said it has a right to exclude them. He likened it to a club that only accepts women.
“It’s a fraternal organization,” Brewer said. “We have a freedom of association in America. To belong to a men’s club doesn’t make you a nasty, discriminatory person.”
The lawsuit asks for the court to declare the Angler’s Yacht Club’s leases invalid and unconstitutional. It also asks the court to require the city to evict the Angler’s Yacht Club or renegotiate the lease.