National News

Minority owners say new ordinance is racially motivated, city disputes claim

Posted June 11, 2018 11:08 a.m. EDT

— A lawyer is claiming a new ordinance in the city of Chamblee is targeting minority-owned nightclubs but city officials say the claim is unfounded.

At Mansion Elan nightclub in Chamblee, owners say they make most of their money between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. But now, this small business is losing big bucks after a new city ordinance went in to effect recently, slashing their hours of operation

One business owner who spoke with CBS46 News says he'll lose in upwards of $65,000 dollars a night.

General Manager Gilbert Smith says Mansion Elan is only open three nights a week and the city's new ordinance cut the nightclub's closing times from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 3 a.m. to midnight on Sundays, which are this nightclub's prime operating hours.

"I don't know how we'll be able to sustain this pattern," says Smith. "We have 75 employees full time and part time that we have to provide for and I don't think we'll be able to do that."

Smith and his attorney filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Chamblee, attempting to block the ordinance.

Lawyer LeRon Rogers tells CBS46 News that he believes this ordinance is racially motivated and that the city is trying to shut down black-owned nightclubs by cutting their closing times.

"The city is trying to run the black-owned businesses out of town, especially the black-owned nightclubs," says Rogers. "African-Americans and Hispanic people primarily go out later in the evenings. So the crowd at Mansion Elan doesn't arrive until one o' clock in the morning."

The city of Chamblee disputes that the new ordinance is racially-motivated. Brain Mock, council member at-large, sent this statement to CBS46's Kai Beech Monday morning:

"A federal lawsuit has been filed, which limits any comments that I may make. As stated in our council agenda, this ordinance simply brings us inline with those of DeKalb County and our bordering jurisdictions. As one of the most diverse cities in the state, I am comfortable stating unequivocally that race does not play a factor in city council decisions."

Rogers says if Chamblee's black-owned nightclubs do shutdown because of this ordinance, the entire city will suffer by losing more than the $1.5 million that these nightclubs pay in taxes every year.