Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter -- who sparked uproar last week with a Facebook post calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” — met Tuesday with representatives from the NAACP and a group called Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Those 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.
“This is definitely positive,” James Woo, a spokesman for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said. “It’s a first step.”
Woo said Hunter met with single representatives from his group and the Gwinnett NAACP around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, several hours before dozens of protesters spoke out against the commissioner at a regularly scheduled board meeting.
News of the meeting was not made public until a Wednesday morning press release from Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
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 the meeting to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and said Hunter “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 has said it will continue to organize protests at Board of Commissioners meetings until that happens. But the Gwinnett NAACP and Asian Americans Advancing Justice have lobbied only for him to apologize and meet with the community,
Gwinnett NAACP president Marlyn Tillman 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.”