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Protests outside of LaCage Niteclub after claims that owner made 'racist' comments, owner denies

NOW: Protests outside of LaCage Niteclub after claims that owner made ’racist’ comments, owner denies

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Protests were held outside of LaCage Niteclub Saturday night. It comes after a former show director claimed the owner made racist comments when he was let go. The owner has denied those claims.

LaCage Niteclub is an iconic LGBTQ club that’s been in the city for years. A big group gathered outside to protest Saturday night with signs saying the owner needs to go.

Thomas Franecki says he worked at LaCage Niteclub for five years. The former show director said he was let go after his last show called “SHADE” highlighted people of color in the drag community.

“It was for me as a person of color to give other people of color in the entertainer world a platform to perform on,” Thomas 'Tomi Bordeaux' Franecki said.

Following the firing, Broderick Pearson started planning the protest with others. He performed in the SHADE show.

“He is allowing his personal views to be inflicted into his establishment. For us as a community we have to say no,” Broderick 'Montell I Ross' Pearson said.

During the exit interview, Franecki started recording the conversation with the owner. He claims the owner made racist comments during the interview.

"I still wouldn't have first of all done a show called that name, and I wouldn’t … that's starting to attract back the people that we got rid of,” the owner was recorded saying. 

Franecki and Pearson believe the comments were targeting their race.

“He meant black people,” Pearson said. “Unfortunately, he meant our black community.”

The owner, George Prentice, claims his staff and the shows in the night club are diverse. He said the comment he made wasn’t about race, but instead says it was about the crowd, he claims Pearson and another former employee brought in.

“There's a certain element of troublemakers that come in, loiter, spend no money, cause problems, make confrontations with regular customers,” Prentice said.

The recording also captured the owner asking if the rest of the shows booked this month were “normal.” The owner claims by ‘normal’ he meant shows that didn’t have an underlining message.

“Our shows are geared for entertainment only," Prentice said. "They don't present any point of view and they involve no political agenda." 

Protesters are hoping to get their message across from the outside.

“It's time that we take back LaCage as being ours," Franecki said. "Not someone who doesn't like who we are."

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