College Park mayor files federal lawsuit against city she leads

College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom is suing the city she leads. (Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom is suing the city she leads. (Natrice Miller /

College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom filed a federal lawsuit against the city she leads over what she sees as attempts by the city council to limit her duties.

Motley Broom, the first woman and Black mayor in the city’s history, alleges in the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta that the city has violated her right to free speech and retaliated against her when she called out the restraints.

At the heart of the issue is legislation approved by the council in January that Motley Broom alleges precluded her from “speaking during the debate on legislative initiatives as presiding officer” and has been used in an attempt “to remove her duties and responsibilities as the presiding officer of the city council.”

Motley Broom, who was sworn in as mayor in 2020, also alleges the city has stopped her from offering proclamations and altered her duties and responsibility as “CEO of the city,” according to the lawsuit.

City leaders referred questions about the lawsuit to City Attorney Winston Denmark, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

“It is apparent, if not crystal clear, that the city, acting through its elected council, with the advice and consent of the city attorney, has retaliated, and will continue to retaliate against Mayor Motley Broom for her leadership and adherence to the rule of law,” the lawsuit said.

The mayor’s lawsuit is the latest City Hall skirmish in College Park, which in recent years has found itself embroiled in numerous disputes.

The city in mid January fired City Manager Stanley Hawthorne, the second person in the position to be terminated since June 2022. The firing, which was without public explanation, was later reversed when it became clear that Hawthorne had already planned to resigned.

In accepting his resignation, the city agreed to pay him about $110,000 in severance and additional compensation of around $30,000.

Hawthorne’s predecessor, Darnetta Tyus, filed a lawsuit against the city in April 2023 alleging College Park’s city administration and council fostered a culture of intimidation and bullying of women.

Deputy Police Chief Sharis McCrary, a 20-year veteran of the city’s police department and a one-time College Park interim police chief, also cited intimidation of women in the Tyus lawsuit, which they filed jointing in U.S. District Court.

Motley Broom has been at odds with members of the College Park City Council for months. For instance, she alleged that in early January council demanded staff permanently seal one of the doors leading into her office, “despite her stated and repeated concerns regarding her personal safety,” according to the lawsuit.

The conflict escalated and the council introduced “omnibus” legislation that allegedly stripped her of her ability to run the body’s meetings. Motley Broom also claimed the ordinance limited her ability to express opinions or to debate items on the council’s agenda.

Staff writer Adrianne Murchison contributed to this article.