Hawks' leaders talk race-relations with civil rights activists - CBS46 News

Hawks' leaders talk race-relations with civil rights activists

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Rev. Markel Hutchins was flanked by about eight other civil rights activists while walking up the sidewalk at Phillips Arena.

They were on their way to meet with Hawks CEO Steve Koonin and other executives.

"It's going to be a great meeting and we expect a wonderful outcome," said Hutchins.

What happened next was a bit strange. Hutchins and the group walked up to Phillips Arena ticket area and then got into a limo and a van that took them about a block away.

This is the second time this group tried to meet with Koonin after reports surfaced that the team's General Manager Danny Ferry read racial comments during a conference call.

Majority owner Bruce Levenson also sent an email that implied the team's white fans are more important than the black ones.

Koonin canceled the first meeting at the last minute. Hutchins was confident this one would not be canceled.

"They have given every indication and the fact that they have been so eager and willing to talk to those of us in the civil rights community is a great indicator of where their interests are," said Hutchins.

Since that first canceled meeting on Sept. 10, Ferry took an indefinite leave of absence from the team and Levenson announced plans to sell his interest in the franchise.

Hutchins and team leaders met for about two hours on Friday. He emerged alone after the meeting.

"We had a productive, a great conversation and a great dialogue," said Hutchins.

He would not give details about what was discussed or take any questions from reporters.

"As a condition of our being able to move forward and work together we agreed to communicate via a joint press release," Hutchins said.

A spokesman for the Hawks is issued this statement:

"Earlier today, members of the Hawks executive committee andcivil rights leaders met inside Philips Arena. It was an extremely productiveconversation and we are committed to working together moving forward."

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