Gwinnett official to ‘show where his heart is’ after ‘racist pig’ post

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter, who sparked uproar last week with a Facebook post calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a "racist pig," will attend a local NAACP meeting next month.

It's a move that a spokesman for the commissioner hopes will "show where his heart is."

In a Wednesday morning press release, the Gwinnett NAACP and a non-partisan advocacy group called Asian Americans Advancing Justice announced that representatives from their groups had met with Hunter Tuesday, several hours before dozens of protesters spoke out against the commissioner at a regularly scheduled board meeting.

The organizations said Hunter also agreed to participate in a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting with a larger group and plans to attend the Gwinnett NAACP's Feb. 14 general membership meeting.

An Asian Americans Advancing Justice spokesman called it a “first step.” Gwinnett NAACP president Marlyn Tillman said she was “encouraged” by the gesture.

Seth Weathers, a campaign consultant who has acted as a spokesman for Hunter since he made initial statements to the media regarding his Facebook activity, confirmed Hunter’s initial meeting with the groups and said he “enjoyed” it.

“They invited him, and Tommy represents all the people of that district, so if there’s people from the community that want to meet with him he’ll do his best to make time,” Weathers said. “That’s the way it’s been since he first took office.”

Hunter, who represents Gwinnett County’s diverse District 3, became the target of backlash last week after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published screenshots of several posts from his personal Facebook page. In the same Jan. 14 post in which he called Lewis a “racist pig,” Hunter referred to Democrats as “Demonrats” and “idiots.”

The post was written amid a well-publicized feud between Lewis, a civil rights icon, and then-president-elect Donald Trump.

Hunter has said that the “racist pig” comment was “probably an overreaction out of aggravation,” deleted the post and later apologized for his “choice of words.”

His fellow commissioners have denounced his statements.

The Gwinnett County Democratic Party has repeatedly called for Hunter’s resignation, and organized protests at Tuesday night’s Board of Commissioners meeting. Several dozen protesters attended the meeting, carrying signs and chanting “Hunter must go” whenever the opportunity arose.

They also spoke during the meeting’s public comment section.

“No apology that you could give us will be acceptable,” said one, Lawrenceville resident Art Smith. “We cannot, we will not and we shall not accept that apology. You should resign.”

Tillman, the Gwinnett NAACP president, said Wednesday that, at its upcoming meeting, her organization will give Hunter the opportunity to “share his vision of Gwinnett,” address his Facebook comments and answer questions from the audience.

She said representatives from Gwinnett’s Asian, Hispanic, and Muslim communities will also be present.

“We just see it as a positive step forward to bring about healing in the community,” Tillman said.

Hunter hopes it will help heal his image, too.

“He wishes that this had not taken the turn that it has, and he hopes that people can see past that,” Weathers said. “And his being willing to meet with any member of the community, which is what he’s been doing, he hopes that that will show where his heart is.”

Asked where that was, Weathers said “in Gwinnett County.”