Petition Closed
Petitioning Mayor of the Town Of Shannon, Mississippi Mayor Ronnie Hallmark and 6 others

Town of Shannon, Mississippi, Mayor and Board of Aldermen: Grant a license to PJ to open O'Haras

This summer I have been trying to reopen a bar, O’Hara’s that I operated in the 1990’s in Shannon, Mississippi – a small town south of Tupelo. The bar mainly serves LGBT customers, though it’s welcoming to all and is the only gay bar within about a 100-mile radius.

Since I’ve owned businesses and had owned a bar in Shannon before, I didn’t think it would be a problem to get a license and reopen O’Hara’s. I thought it would be easy – just complete the requirements, pass inspection and like any other business obtain a license and open the doors.

I was told that I would have to go before the Board of Aldermen on June 4 to get approval for my business license.  I went into the meeting confident and positive that I would have my business license for O’Hara’s.

Instead, at least 30 townspeople were at the meeting and my application was at the top of the agenda. I was confronted with a petition against the bar purportedly signed by almost 200 of the town’s 1800 residents. Citizens’ and aldermen’ questions were full or fear and even insults. I felt alone, shocked and frustrated, but I attempted to answer their questions and addressed their concerns.

Although my application met all the requirements, the board rejected it without citing any legitimate concerns.

After leaving the meeting, I went to the bar, loaded up some personal items and decided I was finished and would not open the bar. But while driving, I realized that was exactly what those people who insulted me wanted me to do and I changed my mind. I thought about my friends, my customers and the people who needed a place to work and perform.

I knew that if I walked away, it would be the wrong thing to do. The Southern Poverty Law Center has taken on my case and we are pursuing legal options, but I still want to open my bar and I need help.  Please sign my petition and tell the Shannon Board of Alderman to allow me to open my business. 

I signed a lease for the building and had all utilities turned on expecting to be in business by now.  Currently, I’m struggling to pay the bills because I can’t open the doors.  If you are interested in donating to the operational fund 

Letter to
Mayor of the Town Of Shannon, Mississippi Mayor Ronnie Hallmark
Alderman Paul Lyles
Alderman James Oswalt
and 4 others
Alderman Joey McCord
Alserman-at-large Carl Trice
Alderman Bryant Thompson
Alderman Jerry Grubbs
I ask that you grant PJ Newton a license to open O'Hara's because no town or city is EVER allowed to make zoning decisions that merely reflect the fear and unfair judgments of the public.