NAACP Lobs Discrimination Charge At Athens City Council
ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – Allegations of racial discrimination are being made against the city of Athens and the process it used to hire a new fire chief.
Members of the Limestone County NAACP say that Fire Chief Tony Kirk was selected thanks to a “backroom deal” orchestrated by council members.
Those charges were made at Monday night’s city council meeting, claims that city leaders adamantly deny.
NAACP leaders accused council members of intentionally bypassing a black candidate for fire chief, and said it was the latest in a string of race-based decisions made by the council. The group did not elaborate on how black candidates were specifically discriminated against.
“Change will never come if you insist on not changing,” said an unidentified NAACP spokeswoman who addressed the council. Another NAACP leader scolded council leaders on how they conducted the hiring process, saying “We cannot continue the course as usual.”
Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said the accusations had no merit at all, and no evidence to back them up.
“I would deny any charges of discrimination, that’s ridiculous,” said Mayor Marks.
City Council President Jimmy Gill also defended the hiring of Chief Kirk. Gill is black, and said Kirk received the job because he was the most qualified candidate.
“What they [NAACP] are saying, I think it’s absolutely wrong,” said Gill. “Everybody was treated the same. All applicants, regardless of race, status, whatever, all applicants were treated the same.”
NAACP officials said they have no plans to pursue legal action against the city of Athens. Mayor Marks said he would continue to work with the civil rights group on recruiting minority candidates who are qualified for available city positions.