Officials of the local branch of the NAACP said held a press conference before Tuesday's City Council meeting to protest against a resolution setting up a downtown Business Improvement District (BID).
Dr. Elenora Woods, local NAACP president, said, "This ordinance will divide Chattanooga even more. It will take us back 100 years.
"We need to fight ordinances and Jim Crow laws that lead to segregation and exclusion of our citizens."
The council recently balked at approving the BID, and Councilman Anthony Byrd did not get a second to his motion to approve.
However, council members Byrd, Erskine Oglesby and Jerry Mitchell started a renewed effort for the BID.
The initial vote on the BID by the City Council was on the agenda, but it was delayed a week on the motion of Councilman Byrd. If it is approved next Tuesday, there would be a public hearing and final vote on July 23.
Under a BID, property owners pay assessments to provide special services above that the city provides. The local BID, led by the River City Company would have a $1 million annual budget.
Dr. Woods also said, "Downtown belongs to all of us and not just the privileged. Chattanooga was opened up in the early 60s by the students of Howard High who risked their lives to end segregation.
"This BID ordinance is an injustice to allof us who fought to end segregation in downtown Chattanooga. We all lose when Chattanooga excludes people from enjoying all of our great city by creating outrageous fees and Jim Crow policies and rules.
"This ordinance has all the indications of classism and racism. Our elected officials should do the right thing and vote no to the BID.
"Shame on all of the council members responsible for voting yes to support this divisive ordinance."