PRESS RELEASE from Mayor Motley Broom

[Fulton County, GA – March 1, 2024] – On March 1, Mayor Bianca Motley Broom, both in her individual and official capacity as Mayor of the City of College Park, Georgia, took legal action against the City for alleged violations of her protected rights under the United States Constitution and Georgia law. The petition, filed by Mayor Motley Broom, asserts that the City Council has attempted to silence her and strip her of her authority and responsibilities in violation of the law.

In the petition, Mayor Motley Broom outlines a series of actions the City Council took that she alleges are unconstitutional and unlawful. These actions include attempts to prevent her from speaking on matters of public concern, restrictions on her ability to participate in Council meetings, and efforts to alter her duties and responsibilities as Mayor, all of which she contends violate her rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Georgia law.

“As Mayor, my foremost priority has always been the well-being of our community. In no way did I make this decision lightly. I saw no other way to preserve my rights and those who may come after me. My decision to take this legal action is rooted in a deep sense of duty and care that has guided my actions over the past four years,” stated Mayor Bianca Motley Broom.

“This lawsuit is about upholding accountability, transparency, and the rule of law. It’s about standing for our rights and those of future leaders who will serve our community,” Mayor Motley Broom emphasized.

Additionally, Mayor Motley Broom also filed a motion to disqualify College Park City Attorney Winston Denmark and his firm, Denmark Ashby, from representing the Defendant (City of College Park) in the ongoing matter. The motion outlines serious allegations of bias and ethical violations, aiming to uphold the integrity of the legal proceedings. 

“Free and open dialogue is fundamental to democracy, and diversity of thought is crucial in our decision-making processes,” Mayor Motley Broom affirmed. “Regardless of the outcome, I remain dedicated to transparency and keeping the public informed through various channels.”

College Park mayor files federal lawsuit against city she leadsCollege Park mayor files federal lawsuit against city she leads

College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom filed a federal lawsuit against the city she leads over what she sees as attempts by the city council to limit her duties.

Motley Broom, the first woman and Black mayor in the city’s history, alleges in the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta that the city has violated her right to free speech and retaliated against her when she called out the restraints.

At the heart of the issue is legislation approved by the council in January that Motley Broom alleges precluded her from “speaking during the debate on legislative initiatives as presiding officer” and has been used in an attempt “to remove her duties and responsibilities as the presiding officer of the city council.”

Motley Broom, who was sworn in as mayor in 2020, also alleges the city has stopped her from offering proclamations and altered her duties and responsibility as “CEO of the city,” according to the lawsuit.

City leaders referred questions about the lawsuit to City Attorney Winston Denmark, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

“It is apparent, if not crystal clear, that the city, acting through its elected council, with the advice and consent of the city attorney, has retaliated, and will continue to retaliate against Mayor Motley Broom for her leadership and adherence to the rule of law,” the lawsuit said.

The mayor’s lawsuit is the latest City Hall skirmish in College Park, which in recent years has found itself embroiled in numerous disputes.

The city in mid January fired City Manager Stanley Hawthorne, the second person in the position to be terminated since June 2022. The firing, which was without public explanation, was later reversed when it became clear that Hawthorne had already planned to resigned.

In accepting his resignation, the city agreed to pay him about $110,000 in severance and additional compensation of around $30,000.

Hawthorne’s predecessor, Darnetta Tyus, filed a lawsuit against the city in April 2023 alleging College Park’s city administration and council fostered a culture of intimidation and bullying of women.

Deputy Police Chief Sharis McCrary, a 20-year veteran of the city’s police department and a one-time College Park interim police chief, also cited intimidation of women in the Tyus lawsuit, which they filed jointing in U.S. District Court.

Motley Broom has been at odds with members of the College Park City Council for months. For instance, she alleged that in early January council demanded staff permanently seal one of the doors leading into her office, “despite her stated and repeated concerns regarding her personal safety,” according to the lawsuit.

The conflict escalated and the council introduced “omnibus” legislation that allegedly stripped her of her ability to run the body’s meetings. Motley Broom also claimed the ordinance limited her ability to express opinions or to debate items on the council’s agenda.

By Leon Stafford, Staff writer Adrianne Murchison contributed to this article.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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