Local business owner plans to refile racial discrimination lawsuit against Tuscaloosa

The owners of Twelve25 restaurant and bar expressed to WVUA23 News why he filed a law suit against the City of Tuscaloosa and why he dropped it. The owners voluntarily dropped the initial lawsuit after a federal judge ruled that the city was within its rights to enforce new occupancy requirements on the restaurant and bar. The owners are re-filing their case locally.

The initial lawsuit alleged that the City of Tuscaloosa violated the owners rights when the city initiated a revised queuing ordinance this month without allowing business owners to comment at a public hearing.

In August 2022 a city ordinance was passed to help curb the crowded lines waiting along the Strip. Tuscaloosa Assistant Chief of Police Stephen Rice told WVUA23 News in a previous interview that it’s about safety.

“I think right now it’s almost the wild west down there,” Rice said. “We don’t want to shut anybody down. We don’t want to write tickets, I promise you. This is just one tool that we need to try and control that egress and walking back and forth.”

Twelve25 co-owner Jay Jarrett questions if the real issue is about public safety.

“We want the community to know that we have the city, the mayor, the council doing things regulatory wise to shut down a minority owned business along the Strip, said Jarrett. It’s devastating.” “If safety and welfare is an issue when it’s again Black students down there, take our records, bounce it up against anyone. We haven’t had any major fights, shootings, stabbings, or anything like that,” said Jarrett.

Jarrett said the new ordinance will decrease his business by almost 50%.  And if his bar is caught violating the ordinance, the Tuscaloosa Police Department could close the bar for up to 24 hours.

Jarrett believes the new ordinance was passed because Twelve25 is a minority owned business that was attracting customers away from white-owned businesses.

Jarrett’s attorneys are planning to refile the lawsuit in Tuscaloosa County.

Twelve25 restaurant and bar resides in District 4, which is represented by City Council Member Lee Busby. Busby declined to make a statement at this time.

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