Nashville council rejects proposed sign for Morgan Wallen’s new bar, condemning his actions

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville council members have voted against a proposed illuminated sign for Morgan Wallen’s new bar on the city’s well-lit street of honky-tonks. The decision came in light of Wallen’s past use of a racial slur that sparked controversy in 2021 and recent allegations of throwing a chair off a rooftop near two police officers.

The Nashville Metro Council’s vote was 30-3 on Tuesday evening to reject the sign at Morgan Wallen’s This Bar & Tennessee Kitchen, which is scheduled to open soon. The sign would have extended over a public sidewalk, similar to signs at other nearby bars. Normally, getting approval for such a sign is not a contentious process.

During discussions, council members criticized Wallen’s comments as hateful and his behavior as harmful. They noted that the artist has been given multiple chances.

“I don’t want to see a billboard up with the name of a person who is throwing chairs off of balconies and who is saying racial slurs,” remarked Councilmember Delishia Porterfield, who is Black.

Councilmember Jacob Kupin, who introduced the proposal, said that he had to consider Wallen’s actions carefully. He acknowledged that TC Restaurant Group, an independent organization overseeing the business, has been a positive partner and has contributed to enhancing safety in downtown Nashville.

The Associated Press attempted to reach Wallen’s publicist and TC Restaurant Group for their response to the council’s decision.

“The fact that someone’s name is going up on a bar doesn’t mean that we condone all the behavior, but again I appreciate the efforts to make amends, the positive response, and again, the operator themselves I don’t think should be penalized for what happened,” Kupin stated.

The initial hearing for Wallen’s criminal case has been postponed until Aug. 15. According to an arrest affidavit, witnesses claimed to have seen Wallen throw a chair off the roof of the six-story Chief’s bar on April 7. The chair landed close to two police officers. Wallen is now facing three felony counts of reckless endangerment and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

In a statement issued by Wallen, he accepted “responsibility” for his actions and expressed being “not proud” of his behavior. Wallen mentioned his efforts to make amends and connect with law enforcement.

Wallen’s album, “One Thing at a Time,” was a chart-topper for 16 weeks on the Billboard 200 in 2023 and was the most popular album in the U.S. last year. It included top 10 hits like “Last Night,” “You Proof,” and “Thinkin’ Bout Me.”

In 2021, Wallen was indefinitely suspended from his label after a video showed him using a racial slur, which he later admitted was ignorant.

Kid Rock’s bar, situated close to Wallen’s new bar, was involved in a previous sign-related controversy. In 2019, some council members were critical of a sign design featuring a giant guitar with the base shaped like a woman’s buttocks, but the sign was eventually approved.

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