For many people, being called racist is the worst insult in the world. Which is why some residents of Hapeville, Georgia, are really embarrassed at this sign, which lists the names of residents one man says, “Don’t want black people in Hapeville.”
— AJC (@ajc) November 14, 2016
Joshua Patton claims that the city of Hapeville refuses to give his nightclub a liquor license because his customers are mostly black, which forced him to close his business. The sign names a number of Hapeville officials, including the mayor of Hapeville and all of the City Council.
Denying nightclubs liquor licenses because they are “rowdy” or “unsafe” is a common dog whistle for “We don’t want your kind in these parts.” Unfortunately, it’s incredibly hard to prove. City Manager William Whitston (whose name appears on the sign) told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they’re just concerned about safety, and “It’s unfortunate Mr. Patton has chosen to exercise his First Amendment rights in this distasteful way. But we respect his right do so.”
This isn’t the first time Patton has tried this tactic. In June he put up a sign over his nightclub, though it had fewer names at the time. “They flat told me we don’t want ‘you or your kind’ in this city and what [they] meant is African-Americans,” he told WRBL.