Atlanta leaders react to Hawks owner’s exit over email

Berndt Petersen reports

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed:

“The published remarks made by Atlanta Hawks Controlling Owner Bruce Levenson are reprehensible and offensive. The statements do not represent the City of Atlanta’s history of diversity and inclusion, and we will be clear and deliberate in denouncing and repudiating them. I applaud the NBA’s efforts to enforce a no-tolerance policy of discrimination. As a city, we will continue to stand behind the Atlanta Hawks organization as they work to find new ownership that reflects the values and ideals of a city that is too busy to hate.”


State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta

“Major League Baseball have neglected reaching out to the African-American community. I would argue that they are responsible for creating the situation.”

“I just find the hypocrisy factor very high. Levenson criticized Donald Sterling very strongly during the mess with the Clippers. I think Sterling’s affronts were worse, but the hypocrisy factor is high.”

Levenson could look at the demographics of attendance and make the opposite point: What is the problem with white fans in Atlanta? “It is clear that was written by a guy imprisoned by his white male privilege.”

“Levenson makes a profit off African-American ballplayers and then complains about the demographics. It is maddening.”


The Rev. Gerald L. Durley, Pastor Emeritus of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, spent Sunday watching another local team with a large black following, the Falcons.

He called Levinson’s comments, “Horrible.”

“My initial reaction is that those kinds of comments and statements are racist and hateful,” Durley said. “We are trying to pull together as a city and community, so that statement has no place in Atlanta, where we are building an economic, political and racial base. A place where we are trying to bridge so many gaps. There is no place for remarks like that in the NBA and especially Atlanta.”


Local civil rights advocate Markel Hutchins said Levinson’s comments amplify a serious racial problem across sports – particularly with ownership. He said the NBA got off easy by just dismissing Donald Sterling, adding that Adam Silver now “has to take a deeper look at the culture of racism and bigotry that is obviously pervasive in the NBA.”

“It also showed us the deep-seeded racism, not only in the NBA but sports in general,” Hutchins said. “The fact that there are so few owners who are black or brown with any ownership stake, while there are so many African American players, is troubling. This should motivate the NBA commissioned to do more to promote diversity in the owner’s suite.”

“His comments undermines the best of Atlanta and what we have represented for race relations for the nation and for the world,” Hutchins said. “And that type of leadership has no place in Atlanta’s rich and important cultural and entertainment community.”

“This is an urban community, this is the most sophisticated city in the United States,” said the Rev. C.T. Vivian. “We are dealing with a period where not only black people have come into their own, this is a time where almost every person and group is accepted in the United States. Each one of us should be helping the rest of us move forward, past the day when people were hung, arrested or killed because of race. If any city is past the time where we have to bow to evil, it should be Atlanta.”

“African Americans have held this town for 40 years and we built part of it, shared all of it and no one should come in and besmirch that record with the negative attitudes of the past,” Vivian said.


Charles Steele – President CEO of SCLC

“I think this is what we have been saying all along, ‘racism is alive and well,’” Steele said. “He(Levenson) is a business leader and here he is saying that about a loyal fan base. It is ludicrous and needs to be dealt with. We as civil rights leaders will not tolerate it. This type of mindset is irrelative to the progress to which we are embarking on.”