White reporters barred from mayoral election event in Georgia

Only African-American members of the press were allowed to enter a meeting to discuss an upcoming mayoral race in Georgia, according to a report this week. 

"No media (T.V. Radio, etc.) Black Press Only!" read a sign posted on the door of Bolton Street Baptist Church, the Savannah Morning News reported.

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White reporters were denied entry while black reporters for at least two television stations and the publisher of the black-owned Savannah Tribune newspaper were allowed into the meeting. 

The community event was advertised by the Trigon Group, a consulting firm, as an opportunity to hear from black candidates for mayor.

The Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams, the organizer of the event, declined to comment to the Savannah Morning News on the entry policy.

Reporters who got inside were prohibited from taking photos, video or audio recording, according to Stephen Moody, an African-American reporter with WJCL who attended the event.

There are three black mayoral candidates who have so far announced campaigns against incumbent Mayor Eddie Deloach, who was the first white mayor of Savannah in 20 years following his 2015 election, The Associated Press noted.

Savannah Alderman Van Johnson, who spoke at the meeting about his campaign for mayor, said groups have the right to determine how they assemble.

“It’s not my meeting,” Johnson said when asked of the discriminatory policy a the door. “I was asked to come and give a statement, so I came and I gave a statement. What I said in there, I’ll say out here.”