Protestors call for the resignation of top Columbus leader

By Roslyn Giles  - email | bio

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting went as planned at the Rivercenter on Friday.  To get inside, attendees walked past about 10 protesters who silently held up signs calling for the resignation of Mike Gaymon, President and CEO of the Chamber.

One of the signs read, "For Columbus to grow, Gaymon must go."

Longtime businessman Ronzell Buckner, Owner of Skipper's Seafood on Buena Vista Road said he organized the demonstration after learning about an incident that happened at a Chamber meeting 2 years ago.

Buckner added he first learned about the incident from an article he read in The Courier Newspaper.  It depicted Gaymon as a racist for covering his head with a tablecloth and sneaking up behind Tom Wyatt, a black employee at the Chamber, to scare him during a meeting with others in attendance.

"He's supposed to be the leader of the community especially the business sector and for him to do something like that, really bothered me," explained Buckner.

Gaymon told News Leader 9, he did it as a joke. "It was 10:30 at night and I was trying to lighten the load; it had been a long day."

Four days later, Gaymon said he learned that Wyatt felt the prank had "racial overtones." Gaymon responded, "I told him I am very sorry-- that could not be farther from truth."

Richard Anthony, Executive Chair 2010, also said the board is not ignoring this issue but is focusing on the community's perception.

"We have met with community leaders and meetings are on going for us to get their point of view.  We want to make sure we have good practices in place in terms of working relations and diversity.  Mike is a tremendous leader at the Chamber and has been for 23 years," said Anthony.

Anthony added the board stands behind Gaymon and feels the incident was misinterpreted.

Buckner says their efforts will continue even though Wyatt has resigned from his position at the Chamber and relocated.  Wyatt had no comment.

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