HAPEVILLE, Ga. – A restaurant sign is garnering a lot of attention in Hapeville.
The sign, posted at The Castle Restaurant on N. Central Avenue, says “These citizens don’t want black people in Hapeville!” and then goes on to list 12 names, including the city's mayor and several city council members.
The restaurant’s owner, Joshua Patton, claims that for the last year, the city has denied his business a liquor permit because most of his clients are black.
The restaurant, which hasn’t opened yet, is located almost directly across the street from the new Porsche headquarters. Patton said a city leader said they didn’t want “those kind of people” near the headquarters.
Patton gave 11Alive a rejection letter dated Feb. 2016. In it, the city points to four reasons for denying his permit, including evidence that his previous restaurants had history of perpetuating violence, along with lack of adequate parking.
Hapeville City Manager William Whitson issued a statement Thursday saying:
“The City of Hapeville is currently in litigation with the owner of the Castle (Mr. Patton) over a disputed administrative matter. It is very unfortunate that Mr. Patton has chosen to exercise his right of free speech in such an offensive manner to so many. However, we yield to his right to do so under the law and City has no further comment at this time.”
City Manager William Whitson said the city does not have plans to force Patton to take the sign down, citing freedom of speech.
For his part, Patton says he is fighting for his customers and will not take the sign down until his permit is approved.