Milwaukee woman claims she was denied service because of her race

Junkyard owner denies claim of racial bias
Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 19:48:41-05

A Milwaukee woman who was trying to get her car towed to a salvage lot says she was turned away because she is black.

Sheniqua Davis said her Dodge Neon was too costly to fix, so she started calling salvage shops to see how much she could get for her vehicle which had been parked in an auto repair shop lot. The car wasn't running, so she needed the purchaser to also tow it.

"The car was no good so I was trying to find someone to buy the car from me," Sheniqua Davis said.

Davis says she called several salvage shops before speaking with the owner of A-1 Junk Cars on the phone. She claims the two talked about a car estimate and then exchanged a series of text messages afterward.

“They texted back again and told me they can meet me in 45 minutes or so and get the vehicle, and then I get another text back asking me what is my race," Davis said. "I'm like, 'What does race have to do with anything?' The response back was 'If you’re black then we won’t do business with you because we have been burned by my kind.'"

Davis showed TODAY'S TMJ4 text messages between her and someone claiming to be with A-1 Junk Cars. 

“It was like disgusting to me," Davis said. "I've never experienced this. I’ve known some people to experience something due to race, but I've never experienced it before.”

Dennis Kurasz, the owner of A-1 Junk Cars, denied sending any messages to Davis.

“I’m not a racist," Kurasz said. "I buy cars from everybody. White, black, Asian, Mexican -- I don’t care. If you have a car and title I will buy your car.”

Kurasz claims someone pretending to be him sent Davis racist text messages. He says the salvage business is very competitive and believes another salvage yard may be targeting him.

TODAY'S TMJ4 tried calling and texting the number that texted Davis. A few hours later, we received a text message saying "I am Dennis, owner of A-1 Junk Cars. As I said before, I can refuse to do business with anyone I want! Don't contact us again."

Kurasz says that text message was sent from his number, but that he didn't send that message.

“There are some other companies that have children that work at them that play games like this and try close everyone else down and get them out of business,” Kurasz said.

When we asked Davis who might be targeting him and why someone would try to go after his business instead of any other salvage yard, Kurasz didn't have an explanation.

Davis says she plans on filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau on Monday.

Kurasz does have one prior complaint against his business for a similar alleged incident in 2015.

The complainant told the Better Business Bureau:

"I had arranged to have my car towed when an emergency came up and I had to go take my mom to the hospital and could not be there when tow guy (Tom) came. Well he texted me very upset calling me a welfare project living bitch. He also said don't bother texting back because I blocked your number. I also screenshot every other insult he wrote. Very rude and unprofessional. I've never experienced such fowl and rudeness from anyone ever.

A-1 Junk Cars responded to the Better Business Bureau complaint:

"I went to pick up her car and she already had someone else get it, her father said so as he was outside, she would not answer the phone or text messages, SHE WAS VERY RUDE BY DOING THAT street she called me and called me to come get her car, then I get there and she won't answer. Am employee of mine... texted her those insults and I have told her not to do that again." 

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