A nightclub and restaurant owner in Georgia is accusing his city of racism with a provocative billboard.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Joshua McArthur Patton, built a 4-x-8-foot sign outside of his restaurant, The Castle. It reads, “These people don’t want Black people in Hapeville!” Then, a list of 18 names is shown. Included among those names are city officials.
Patton’s establishment served mostly Black customers. He told the newspaper the nightclub eatery was open only two months prior to its 2015 closure. He said the Fulton County Superior Court judge – and Hapeville before it – refused to give him a liquor license for The Castle. The 64-year-old is now considering taking legal action to open his resturant-club, which is located across the street from a Porche test-driving facility.
But City Manager William Whitson told the AJC that “health, safety and community would not be well served” if Patton were awarded a liquor license. He also dismissed Patton’s racism accusation.
“This gentleman was trying to embarrass the city into giving him an alcohol license,” Whitson said. “It’s unfortunate Mr. Patton has chosen to exercise his First Amendment rights in this distasteful way. But we respect his right do so.”
Additionally, Whitson noted Porche’s presence had nothing to do with denying Patton a license.
The billboard follows a banner Patton hung outside the business in June stating, “These citizens don’t want Black people in Hapeville.” A shorter list of names was written on it, including Alcohol Review Board and City Council members, CBS 46 reported.
“They call my customers ‘thugs, gangsters, low-life [and] no-class,’ ” Patton told the news station. “They flat told me, ‘We don’t want you or your kind in this city. And what they meant [is] African-Americans.’ ”
Meanwhile, the Hapeville Alcohol Review Board listed several reasons why Patton couldn’t obtain a liquor license, including material misrepresentation, traffic issues for the 13,000-square-foot space and city welfare interests.