- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 16, 2016

HAPEVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A Hapeville nightclub owner has erected a sign publicly accusing city officials of racism after they denied him a liquor license.

Businessman Joshua Patton believes his liquor license application was rejected because he says he catered mostly to African-Americans, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (https://on-ajc.com/2fY001n ).

A 4-by-8 foot sign in front of the now-shuttered Castle restaurant now reads “These people don’t want black people in Hapeville!” and features 18 names, including those of Mayor Alan Hallman and City Manager William Whitson. The sign is across the railroad tracks from Porsche’s test-driving complex, near the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The club was open for just two months in 2015 before closing, Patton said.

“I’ve never caused the city of Hapeville no problems,” Patton said. “They’ve approved over 200 liquor licenses since 2000 and I’m the only one they deny.”

Whitson has denied accusations of racism and has cited safety concerns for why the license was rejected. He also said the decision was not made because of the club’s prime location near the Porsche track.

“This gentleman was trying to embarrass the city into giving him an alcohol license,” Whitson said Monday. “It’s unfortunate Mr. Patton has chosen to exercise his First Amendment rights in this distasteful way. But we respect his right do so.”


Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, https://www.ajc.com

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