Stone Mountain City Council narrowly rejects resolution to reinstate Juneteenth vendor

Image obtained via the city of Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain, GA — The Stone Mountain Juneteenth Festival will go on without the Stone Mountain Action Coalition as a vendor.

The City Council during a special called meeting on June 15 voted 4-3 against a resolution that would’ve reinstated the group after its application was rejected by the city’s Juneteenth Event Committee. The committee rejected the application, citing a rule against “political” vendors. Stone Mountain Action Coalition is a group that is advocating for removing Confederate symbols at Stone Mountain Park.

Mayor Patricia Wheeler cast the tie-breaking vote against the resolution submitted by Councilmember Clint Monroe.

The voted occurred after a heated argument between the council members. At one point, Wheeler threatened to mute Monroe during the Zoom meeting.

“You are trying to take over the meeting tonight,” Wheeler told Monroe during the discussion.

“You should’ve showed up at the last meeting, mayor,” Monroe said.

“I was out of town,” Wheeler replied.

The last meeting was held virtually on June 11. Wheeler and councilmembers Chakira Johnson, Jasmine Little and Diana Roe Hollis didn’t attend the meeting called by Monroe and attended by councilmembers  Shawnette Bryant and Gina Cox. Johnson, Little and Hollis on June 15 voted against Monroe’s resolution to reinstate the Stone Mountain Action Coalition. Bryant, and Cox voted along with Monroe in support of it. They were also at the June 11 meeting.

Little and Johnson one June 15 accused Monroe of politicizing the event.

“You brought this up nine days before Juneteenth festival when we’re trying to unite our city, and you decided to divide our city,” Little said.

Johnson said Monroe’s actions showed why the committee was justified in rejecting the Stone Mountain Action Coalition’s application.

“You want to do this in a public forum when you could have the most impact and get the most controversy,” she said. “You are out here trying to make controversy. The fact that we are having these arguments about Stone Mountain Action Coalition…. is exactly what we were trying to avoid.”

Monroe then attempted to vote against adjourning the special called meeting to enter the council’s work session. That vote failed.

Following the June 15 special called meeting and work session, Monroe said, “The Juneteenth Event Committee has no authority to take a position that makes default policy for the entire city. Only council can set policy. The entire point of Resolution 2021-12 was to rescind JEC position/ default policy, and fairly allow [Stone Mountain Action Coalition] to be a vendor for the first annual Juneteenth Celebration. So much for Freedom in Stone Mountain. Our chance to correct a miscarriage of justice was missed today.”

During the work session, Wheeler moved public comments to the end of the lengthy agenda. The comments were at the top of the agenda when the meeting began.

Her opponent in the upcoming city elections, Darryl B. Gresham, spoke during public comments. He had asked to vend at the event and got turned down. Like Monroe, Gresham has indicated that the decision to prohibit the Stone Mountain Action Coalition from vending has more to do with him than it does with that group.

“It is totally absolutely clear that … the committee along with the city council members, purposely tried to silence opposition to Mayor Patricia Wheeler,” Gresham said.

“I have no comment on that,” Wheeler said.

Stone Mountain’s Juneteenth Celebration will begin at 6 p.m. and end with fireworks at 9 p.m.

“Additionally, the Atlanta Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers will perform a color guard and have an exhibit; a voter registration tent and the Life South mobile donation bus will also be on site,” the event announcement says. “Live performance from the Georgia Stars Academy of Dance and music from Yeye’s Drum Group. The festival will kick off with a short program to highlight the day’s importance, including remarks from local leaders, performances by local choir members, and a tribute to late Congressman John Lewis.”

For more information about the city’s Juneteenth Celebration, click here.

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