Civil rights complaint filed against Mason veteran’s yard sign

MASON, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s a story we first told you earlier this week and now the state is stepping in over a Mason veteran’s controversial yard sign.

The man, James Prater of Mason, set up two signs: one that says “For Sale By Owner” and the other that states “Terms: No Foreigners, Iraq Vet.”

That sign is still up tonight and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights confirmed today that a complaint has been filed against Prater.

6 News spoke with both the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and a realtor about the situation and they say Prater is breaking the law.

“It is a federal and state violation,” said Kim Dunham; President of the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors.

The “No Foreigners” sign planted in Mason resident James Prater’s front yard not only infringes on the Michigan Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, but it’s also in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act according to Dunham.

“The reason these laws are in place is to protect people so they’re treated equally and fairly,” Dunham stated.

Dunham says although Prater lists himself as an “un-represented” seller, that doesn’t mean the laws don’t apply to him and the bottom line is this sign is not only discriminatory, it’s against the law.

“He believes this is his right as a veteran, he believes he and as a homeowner has this right and unfortunately he’s wrong,” said Dunham.

It’s for that very reason the Michigan Department of Civil Rights took action and filed a complaint against Prater.

“It may seem like a small thing but in reality it has an effect on an entire community that could be negative,” said Vicki Levengood, Communications Director of the Michigan Civil Rights Department.

Levengood says if the situation isn’t challenged, it could lead people to believe it’s ok to discriminate and that’s where the line needs to be drawn.

“It’s not surprising, it is always distressing and we try to use our efforts at education to make sure people understand why and that we’re protecting the rights of everyone including the community,” Levengood stated.

Levengood says once Prater receives the complaint in the mail, he has seven days to respond.

If he chooses not to remove the sign, Civil Rights officials say they’ll take him to court.

However, Levengood says during the next week the Civil Rights Department will be in touch with Prater and she’s hopeful this situation will get resolved.

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