Athens for Everyone (A4E) is pleased to announce the progress made last night by our Mayor & Commission who took a crucial step in the fight for human rights and social justice by passing an anti-discrimination resolution.
Anger in the community reached its boiling point after recent discoveries about General Beauregard’s reignited public outcry against business practices which have gone overlooked by officials for too long. Public calls against the Confederate-themed bar and others with discriminatory policies – especially related to dress codes – have been complemented by a study released by the UGA Student Government Association documenting more than 50 reports of discrimination largely based on dress code.
This resolution is important for demonstrating where Athenians and their officials stand in regards to such despicable behavior, but as questions raised by Melissa Link clarified during the meeting, this resolution doesn’t on its own go far enough. It will provide direction for staff to move forward with more binding policies and hopefully – as A4E Outreach Coordinator Jesse Houle and Anti-Discrimination March Organizer Knowa Johnson pointed out – a stronger, more binding human rights ordinance. While the resolution is a key first step, we look forward to an enforceable ordinance similar to what other cities across the nation have done.
In the meantime, it appears ACC Attorney Bill Berryman will be working with staff to draft amendments to existing liquor licensing procedures. A4E President Tim Denson urged the county to go further and establish a Human Relations Commission, similar to that of Atlanta, which would help curb discrimination at all businesses, not just bars. Some commissioners also alluded to the possibility of establishing some kind of task force or committee. While the details of where this will lead remain to be seen, it is clear that people have spoken up and the M&C has begun acting. As District 8 Commissioner Andy Herod put it, “We would be failing morally as a government if we did nothing.”
For years A4E and its members have had a long commitment to human rights. We hope to see meaningful and appropriate action as a result of this resolution and look forward to where it may lead legislatively. And now the Anti-Discrimination March planned for MLK Day will not only be a call for justice, but we will also have cause to celebrate as we take to the streets!
Wednesday, January 6th, 2016by