August 30, 2016

Mayor Denson Won't Let the Commission Vote on the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Next Week


Mokah commission web.jpeg

Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

Mokah Jasmine Johnson speaks about the anti-discrimination ordinance at the commission's Aug. 16 agenda-setting meeting.

The Athens-Clarke County Commission won’t vote on a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance at its Sept. 6 meeting.

Mayor Nancy Denson told the Athens Banner-Herald that she supports the ordinance as written, but she took it off the agenda because she’s concerned that some commissioners will try to include restaurants in the ordinance, which currently would only cover bars.

The ordinance, written in response to complaints from African American UGA students about being denied entry to student bars based on race, would require bars to post notices of dress codes and private events, and set up a mechanism for people to file complaints with the county attorney’s office. Bars that are found to discriminate could have their alcohol licenses suspended or revoked.

Denson also said she will miss next Tuesday’s meeting and wants to be in attendance for the vote.

Local activists have called for the ordinance to be expanded to cover all types of businesses and include a civil rights committee that would investigate allegations of discrimination. But ACC Attorney Bill Berryman has said the city doesn’t have the power to regulate most businesses; that power lies with the state.

Some activists hope the delay will allow them time to lobby to expand the ordinance's reach.

"We are not currently looking at the pulling of the ordinance off the agenda as a strike against our desire results, but instead a time extension of the process," Knowa Johnson of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement said in a Facebook post.