By CRA News Service
(Oct. 11) The manager of the South County Civic Center is under investigation for alleged discriminatory remarks to an African American patron, prompting a state senator to demand he be fired.
Officials at the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department are looking into claims that R. Aaron Ligon told Celeste Holiday that he was “not used to dealing with people of your kind” and whether he has had a pattern of discriminatory actions throughout his seven years as an employee.
“I have spoken to [Holiday] and …. we are looking into it,” Ligon’s supervisor, Bonnie LeMay, said today.
Senator Maria Sachs, however, wants swifter action.
“What he did was not just morally wrong but legally wrong because he represents the state,” Sachs this morning told a gathering in Delray Beach where Holiday and her mother shared her experience with the senator. “He is dealing with a government contract. He spoke out of line and I think he needs to find employment elsewhere. He needs to find another job.”
Sachs directed Holiday to email her a summary of what transpired.
Holiday, 39, said she went to the Center, 16700 Jog Road on Tuesday, to pay for an upcoming event after unsuccessful attempts to do so previously.
“He asked me …to come in between the hours of 10:30 and 11:30 to pay with the credit card,” she said.
Holiday told him she had to leave and asked if she could leave her credit card information so it could be processed. But Ligon became belligerent and raised his voice, she said.
“I asked him was he having a bad day and he said, ‘No. I’m not used to dealing with people of your kind,’” Holiday recalled. “I asked him to elaborate. ‘Are you referring to women, black women [or] black people? What’s the problem?
And he said, ‘Well ma’am, I just don’t feel comfortable doing your party anymore.
“I was at a loss because he left the door open for me to assume anything,” she said.
Holiday said she then called the County Commission offices and complained. Shortly after, Legon’s supervisor called her back and apologized, she said.
“I wanted to let her know that in no way, under no circumstances should he be dealing with people with the attitude that he has,” Holiday said. “If I were belligerent or rude to him, I could see and it would be a different story.”
Reached at his desk, Ligon was defensive and said, “I have no comment.”
When asked for his supervisor’s name, he hung up the phone.
He provided his supervisor’s information after a follow up phone call.
Holiday has also gotten the ears of City Commissioner Al Jacquet, who said he has also received similar complaints about Ligon’s unprofessional conduct.
But LeMay said she has not received any complaints of this nature against Ligon.
Resident Chuck Ridley, who is also African American, said he tried to rent the center for his son’s wedding reception and faced similar opposition as Holiday.
Ironically, Holiday’s mother, Ernestine Holiday, was one of the first people of color to rent that Center for a function when it opened in the early 1990s.
Comment on this story at editor@Delraybeachtribune.com or call 561-665-0151.