Gwinnett board to visit civil rights museum amid ‘racist pig’ fallout

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter sits beside Chairman Charlotte Nash during a Jan. 17 meeting. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)

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Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter sits beside Chairman Charlotte Nash during a Jan. 17 meeting. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners will tour the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta next week, about a month after Commissioner Tommy Hunter sparked backlash by calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a "racist pig" on Facebook.

A notice of the museum visit, which will take place on Valentine's Day, was posted on the county's website Thursday afternoon. It was not immediately clear if the destination was tied directly to Hunter's social media activity and its fallout, which has included protests, calls for his resignation and a formal ethics complaint.

Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash — who said last week that the Hunter incident has served as “a reinforcement of how important it is to work on [the board’s] community outreach” — said Thursday the board was invited by the museum.

“I can’t speak for Center staff about what might have prompted the invitation,” Nash wrote in an email.

Seth Weathers, a consultant who has served as a spokesman for Hunter in recent weeks, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

Hunter made his disparaging remarks about Lewis, a civil rights leader and friend of Martin Luther King Jr., on his personal Facebook page on Jan. 14. The post was written amid a well-publicized feud between Lewis and then-president-elect Donald Trump, and also referred to Democrats as "Demonrats" and a "bunch of idiots."

It has since been deleted.

The Gwinnett County Democratic Party and the Georgia NAACP have both called for Hunter to resign, and advocacy groups have urged him to participate in meetings with diverse members of the county and his District 3, which stretches from the Centerville and Snellville areas around to Braselton.

On Monday, two attorneys filed an ethics complaint against Hunter, claiming he violated part of the county's 2011 ethics ordinance that says employees and officials should "never engage in conduct which is unbecoming to a member or which constitutes a breach of public trust."

Hunter has apologized for his "choice of words" in the Lewis post but has said he won't resign. He has, however, pledged to attend the Gwinnett NAACP's next general membership meeting. That meeting is scheduled for Valentine's Day night, several hours after the board's scheduled museum visit.

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened in downtown Atlanta in June 2014. Lewis is featured prominently in several of the museum's exhibits.

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