This story has been updated.
Stone Mountain, GA — The drama surrounding Stone Mountain’s upcoming Juneteenth Celebration continues.
The City Council held a special called meeting on June 11 to reconsider its policy on vendors for the event. But Mayor Patricia Wheeler and councilmembers Chakira Johnson, Jasmine Little and Diana Roe Hollis didn’t attend the meeting.
Because the City Council lacked a quorum, it couldn’t conduct any business and the meeting ended. Councilmember Clint Monroe, who called the meeting, declined to comment afterward. Messages Little were not immediately returned.
The meeting was held virtually. Wheeler said she couldn’t attend because she was out of town.
“As I was out of town at a meeting, the city manager knew the first of the week I would be out of town and would not be back in Stone Mountain until Sunday,” Wheeler said.
Councilmember Johnson said she had a conflict and could not attend.
“When I was called by administration about the special called meeting, I informed them I would not be able to attend due to a work conflict,” she said. “It is my understanding that Mr. Monroe was made aware that not all members could attend, however he insisted on initiating the meeting at the scheduled time.”
Councilmember Hollis said, “My husband and I had a prior commitment.”
During the June 11 meeting, Monroe said, “Meeting adjourned. I regret we won’t be able to discuss the business of the council.”
Johnson and Little are members of the city’s Juneteenth Event Committee. They, along with Hollis, on June 7 voted to adjourn the June 7 special called meeting over the objections of councilmember Monroe and councilmembers Shawnette Bryant and Gina Cox. Cox and Bryant joined Monroe at the June 11 meeting.
At the June 7 meeting, Monroe pressed members of the city’s Juneteenth Event Committee about denying a vendor permit to the Stone Mountain Action Coalition, a group that is advocating for removing Confederate symbols at Stone Mountain Park.
Wheeler quickly shut down that conversation at the June 7 meeting, calling on a vote to adjourn. The vote split 3-3, with Wheeler casting the tie-breaking vote to adjourn the meeting.
Monroe had submitted a resolution for the June 11 meeting that would’ve required the city to approve the application of the Stone Mountain Action Coalition, reversing the committee’s decision. But that resolution was not attached to the agenda for the June 11 meeting.
Ostensibly the Juneteenth Committee rejected the Stone Mountain Action Coalition’s application because of a rule against “political” vendors.
Monroe has asked if the real reason Wheeler wanted to end discussions about the Juneteenth Festival is because her opponent in the upcoming city elections, Darryl B. Gresham, asked to vend at the event and got turned down. The event committee rejected Gresham’s application on June 1. On June 2, the Juneteenth Event Committee returned the vendor application form to the Stone Mountain Action Coalition.
Monroe questioned whether the decision to reject SMAC is cover for the committee’s desire to bar Gresham from the event.
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 to mark the day in 1865 when a Union general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom. The announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Abraham Lincoln issued more than two-and-a-half years earlier.
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