On Thursday, October 1, 2020, the Atlanta Young Republicans (AYR) hosted an approved panel discussion on the topic of policing on the outdoor patio at the Sandy Springs, Ga., Taco Mac restaurant location.
Gabe Hartwig, President of Atlanta Young Republicans, stated that panelists included a public defender, a State Senator, and a former law enforcement officer and that questions to the panel revolved around how policing measures in Atlanta and the country could be improved to be more equitable to everyone involved in the justice system.
After an hour of the panel discussion, things turned for the worse.
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A little over an hour into the conversation we received a call from the General Manager of that Taco Mac location saying that he had received complaints about what was being discussed and that we had to shut the event down immediately.
This message was relayed to me as I was moderating the panel and I was forced to end the panel discussion immediately.
After the conclusion of the meeting some attendees stayed around to speak with our panelists in small groups.
Approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the meeting we were told that police would be called to escort us out of the restaurant if we did not leave immediately. It is common for us to stay around for over an hour after the conclusion of meetings.
Today, I and AYR’s VP of Events, Allen English, reached out to the General Manager of Taco Mac Prado in Sandy Springs in order to learn what part of our event had been deemed offensive, how it was reported, and the rationale behind the treatment we received.
We were told by the General Manager that he could give us no further information and had been told not to comment on the situation but that his superior would reach out to us.
We made several unsuccessful attempts to reach out to Taco Mac’s corporate office directly for an explanation before taking any action or releasing a statement.
Republicans and Democrats alike should all be united around protection of free speech.
In fact, AYR even reached out to a founder of Black Lives Matter’s Atlanta chapter to join last night’s panel.
We also acknowledge that Taco Mac is well within their right as business owners to decide who may hold meetings within their facility.
However, this event had been reserved with Taco Mac several weeks in advance. AYR has been meeting at this location since January (except during the peak of the pandemic).
As of this release we have received no additional communication from Taco Mac.
We would encourage those able to reach out to Taco Mac via https://tacomac.com/contact-us/ to let your voice be heard on this issue. There are still a number of unanswered questions and we will provide updates as more information becomes available.
Despite this setback, AYR will continue to help Republicans get elected and grow the party.
Will Taco Mac respond to AYR? We shall see.
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