President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit to Atlanta for college football’s national championship game Monday comes nearly one year after he set off a municipal firestorm with a series of tweets denigrating the city as “crime-infested” and in “horrible shape.”
The controversial tweets were a reaction to the decision by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., to skip Trump’s inauguration last January.
“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,” Trump said in a pair of Twitter messages ahead of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations. “All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”
» IN-DEPTH: Trump’s ‘crime-infested’ epithet misses the mark
The 5th Congressional District, which Lewis has represented since 1986, includes all of downtown Atlanta, where the Georgia-Alabama showdown will take place.
Residents quickly took to social media to #defendthe5th, sharing photographs and anecdotes that amounted to an open love letter to Atlanta and a stinging repudiation of the president, who is not popular in the largely Democratic district.
» RELATED: John Lewis’ 5th District residents respond to Trump’s comments with #defendthe5th, photos of neighborhood
Trump’s remarks did hit on a sore spot for the city, which had experienced a major bump in homicides in 2016, mirroring a national trend.
But 2017 was a different story. Murders dropped 28 percent, from 110 in 2016 to 79 this year. Robberies and burglaries — which touch far more lives and are thus considered a more accurate barometer of crime trends — also decreased by more than 20 percent in 2017.
Trump has visited Atlanta once since taking office, in April to speak to a National Rifle Association leadership forum.