Commission Takes First Step Towards Athens Civil Rights Committee Creation

Athens for Everyone and the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement are happy to see concrete steps taken to create an Athens Civil Rights Committee by having this legislation pass. Thousands of Athenians have been involved over the last 10 months to push for an Athens Civil Rights Committee, and this victory has come about because of their tireless work.

“Residents spoke out at the podium, in letters, emails, phone calls, research, and even in song”, said Athens for Everyone President Tim Denson. “Those voices were too loud to be ignored and the Mayor and Commission, some reluctantly, had to answer their call. I think this victory speaks more to the legacy of the Athens people than it does to our County Commission”

The meeting began with residents speaking from the podium to the Mayor and Commission. “We are just continuing the fight for justice that was started by civil rights pioneers before us”, said Broderick Flannigan, one of the more than 40 people speak in favor of the creation of an Athens Civil Rights Committee. Once the deliberation began the meeting became contentious and at times odd, with many attendees showing frustrations.

Steadfast support for an Athens Civil Rights Committee from Commissioners Kelly Girtz, Melissa Link, Jerry NeSmith, and Jared Bailey was shown in a Commission Defined Option created by Commissioner Girtz weeks in advance. Commissioner Link offered a slight revision more than a week in advance requiring “public input” be utilized in the process of creating a Civil Rights Committee. A third CDO was then dropped just 4 days before the meeting date by Commissioners Andy Herod, Harry Sims, Sharyn Dickerson, and Allison Wright that was similar to Commissioner Girtz CDO. Girtz, Link, Nesmith, and Bailey offered their support for the newly dropped CDO with the caveat that Commissioner Link’s addition of public input be included. Commissioner Herod refused to support that compromise and offered his language alone (seconded by Sims). After great discussion on the importance and innocence of taking public comment, the Herod CDO passed 6-2 (NO: Bailey, Nesmith; Abstain: Girtz, Link).

Athens for Everyone and the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement look forward to working on ensuring that the Athens Civil Rights Committee sees the light of day and is the success that it can, and should, be. As Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement leader Mokah Johnson said at the podium, “We will keep fighting to bring people together.”

Here is a breakdown to make it clear:

Supporters of Commission Defined Option including ‘Public Input’: Bailey, Girtz, Link, NeSmith

Supporters of Commission Defined Option with ‘Public Input’ removed: Bell, Dickerson, Hamby, Herod, Sims, Wright

This is the language that eventually passed:




Photo by John Roark/ Athens Banner Herald
Photo by John Roark/ Athens Banner Herald
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