Fayetteville City Council Proposes Civil Rights Administrator

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – A proposal to add a Civil Rights Administrator position in Fayetteville has many in the community saying they’re outraged.

A yelling match broke out Tuesday’s (Aug. 5) Fayetteville City Council meeting.

The city of Fayetteville is considering making the position, which some say would use police powers to keep businesses from discriminating based on gender, race, sexual orientation and other factors.

The position would be filled by an existing employee of the city.

“If someone felt they were discriminated against, they could contact the civil rights administrator, and air their grievances,” said Sarah Marsh, a city council member.

Many people at the meeting thought the position would infringe on local businesses’ basic civil rights, like freedom of speech.

“This is, once again, another thing that was against the 1st amendment rights, and would be used,” one meeting attendee said.

Some city officials agreed that portions of the ordinance were questionable, with the city attorney warning one part could infringe of first amendment rights.

“This is something that we should not do. I think it is beyond a reasonable power by the city,” said Kit Williams, Fayetteville’s City Attorney.

Many in the crowd could be heard yelling at the city council after some comments were made.

Some in the audience said the job description was too broad, opening up the ordinance to possible abuse.

Others said there isn`t enough need to create a new position.

But, some council members say they have heard plenty of stories of discrimination.

“That is why I think this ordinance is needed. because there`s discrimination here,” said Matthew Petty, a city council member.

“We are hoping that it will encourage a community of compassion, and inclusion, where everybody has equal opportunity to succeed,” Marsh said.

For those interested in sharing their thoughts on the proposal, the city council will once again discuss it at their meeting on August 19.

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