Mecklenburg Commissioners Say Private Liquor Sales Will Negatively Impact Communities Of Color

Aug 8, 2019

Mecklenburg Commissioners voted 7-2 Wednesday night to oppose pending state legislation that would privatize liquor sales in North Carolina. Commissioner Mark Jerrell, who drafted the resolution, said doing away with ABC boards and privatizing alcohol sales will be “a disaster.”

“And frankly, what we know would happen - it would really disproportionately impact people of color, poor communities and things of that nature," Jerrell said during the meeting. "I mean, there’s no doubt about it. The revenue we generate currently allows us to really put that back into treatment options and other areas.”

Jerrell says government-run ABC stores generated $24 million for Mecklenburg County in 2018. He says that money goes back into the community by way of the police and education.

Commissioner Trevor Fuller echoed Jerrell’s sentiments. He says if liquor sales go private there will be liquor stores on every corner of communities of color. 

Commissioner Vilma Leake added that licensing for private liquor stores wouldn't be distrubuted fairly.

"If you've gone to any community where there is the freedom of alcohol that is afforded contracts, you dont find black people getting those contracts," Leake said.

"Those contracts are awarded to other people, not our people. I'm against it and the Republicans have created this monster because they always want to outsource so they can get the dividends of the money." 

Commissioners Pat Cotham and Ella Scarborough voted against the resolution. Scarborough said she believes this is a moral issue and not a legislative decision.

“So I think this is, in my opinion, an issue for the church not for us making this decision. What we're doing is we are getting into people’s homes. We need to stay out of people’s homes. If they want their children to drink. Let them drink. It’s their children.”

House Bill 971, called the “Modern Licensure Model for Alcohol Control,” would replace the 29 ABC stores in Mecklenburg County with private stores. It would also allow liquor to be sold on Sundays if cities or counties allowed it.