A recently filed civil rights lawsuit accuses DeKalb County District 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader and other officials of pursuing a racially motivated campaign to shut down alcohol-licensed Ethiopian restaurants in his district.

By Greg Land (Daily Report) |

A long-established Ethiopian restaurant has sued DeKalb County and Commissioner Jeff Rader and other defendants claiming it was racially targeted for code enforcement violations.

Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant claims it is among the targets of a conspiracy to force restaurants owned and frequented by Ethiopians, Eritreans and other East African nationals out of Rader’s west DeKalb district.

The complaint filed in federal court in Atlanta this past Friday said county fire and code officials launched an enforcement crackdown for minor violations that shut down the Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant in March, while white-owned restaurants that serve primarily white patrons are given a pass for the same offenses.

Sheba had been in operation since 1998.

The complaint and its author, Cary Wiggins of the Wiggins Law Group, said the underlying basis for the county’s enforcement push is a 2008 zoning amendment setting up new requirements for “late night establishments and night clubs” within 1,500 feet of a residential property.

A ”special land use permit” (SLUP) is required for such establishments that operate past 12:30 a.m.

“Sheba and many of the other Ethiopian restaurants were—or should have been—grandfathered as of 2008,” said Wiggins in response to several emailed questions. Sheba continued to serve food and alcohol and feature a DJ and dancing until 3:55 a.m. on weeknights and 2:55 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, as permitted by the county’s alcohol code, until early this year.

Continue reading this story at Daily Report
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