It’s now been more than a month since Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter — one of the highest elected officials in one of the state’s most diverse communities — sparked backlash by calling civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” on Facebook.
Below is a detailed look at all that has transpired during that time.
Jan. 14: Gwinnett Commissioner writes his now infamous Facebook post calling civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig.” In the post, Hunter also refers to Democrats as “Demonrats” and “bunch of idiots.”
The post was written amid a well-publicized feud between Lewis and then-president-elect Donald Trump. That feud was sparked when Lewis, who represents the majority of the city of Atlanta, said he didn’t view Trump as a “legitimate” president.
Jan. 15: Hunter takes to Facebook again, calling Lewis’ own election wins “all illegitimate.”
On the same day, the commissioner posts an image with this phrase: “If you’re easily offended and looking for a ‘safe place’ my page ain’t it.. Move along snowflake.”
Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution publishes screenshots of Hunter’s posts. The commissioner tells The AJC his choice of words was “probably an overreaction out of aggravation” but doesn’t back down.
The Gwinnett County Democratic Party quickly asks Hunter to apologize and resign.
By 11 a.m., Hunter deletes his Facebook posts about Lewis.
Jan. 17: The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners holds its regularly scheduled meetings, with dozens of protesters showing up to speak against Hunter.
Before the board’s 2 p.m. meeting starts, Chairman Charlotte Nash reads an apology letter she sent to Lewis.
“Using hurtful words and name-calling should not have a place in governing,” the letter said, in part.
Hunter also reads a statement, apologizing for his “choice of words” and calling Lewis a “leader of the Civil Rights Movement who should be commended.”
Angry protesters speak for about three hours.
Jan. 18: Gwinnett Commissioners Jace Brooks, Lynette Howard and John Heard make their first comments on the Hunter situation. All denounce the content of his Facebook posts.
Said Brooks, in part: “I disagree with what Commissioner Hunter said and I don’t have those same thoughts or feelings. And I feel pretty confident that the rest of the board doesn’t either.”
Said Howard, in part: “He does like being ... I don’t know if controversial’s the right word. I think he likes kicking things up and making people think. I think that’s been his personality.”
Said Heard, in part: “I want to be clear that I do not agree with Commissioner Hunter’s comments and I hope that he will do the right thing for the citizens he represents.”
Jan. 24: Protesters show up en force at another Board of Commissioners meeting. They speak for hours and chant “Hunter must go!”
Per meeting protocol, Hunter doesn’t address the protesters.
Jan. 25: The Gwinnett NAACP announces that Hunter has agreed to attend its Feb. 14 general membership meeting. Seth Weathers, a spokesman for Hunter, says the commissioner hopes to “show where his heart is.”
Feb. 6: Two local attorneys file a formal ethics complaint on behalf of an Atlanta woman named Nancie Turner, claiming Hunter violated three portions of Gwinnett County’s ethics ordinance.
It’s the first complaint filed under the 2011 ethics ordinance, passed in an attempt to root out corruption and shady land deals that had plagued the county in recent years.
The complaint focuses on sections that include language urging officials to “never engage in conduct which is unbecoming to a member or which constitutes a breach of public trust.”
Weathers, Hunter’s spokesman, downplays the complaint, wondering if “the filing attorneys really passed the bar.”
Feb. 7: Turner and her attorneys hold a press conference about their ethics complaint, saying it’s “not a joke.”
Dozens of protesters turn up again for the Board of Commissioners’ afternoon meeting. They continue to call for Hunter’s resignation.
Feb. 14: Hunter, his fellow commissioners and other county officials visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
Nash, the board chairman, says the group was invited by the museum. The museum has not commented on the timing of the visit, or said if the invitation was a direct result of Hunter’s comments.
Hunter does not speak to reporters after the visit.
Later on Valentine’s Day, Hunter makes his scheduled appearance at the Gwinnett NAACP’s general membership meeting.
The meeting, however, quickly devolves into shouting, protests and infighting among NAACP members. Hunter attempts to answer several questions over the shouts but is ushered out by Weathers after about 30 minutes.
Hunter did say this to the gathered crowd before leaving the meeting: “When we got elected, we worked hard making sure that the entire county was heard, the entire county was understood, the entire county was taken seriously. ...It hurts that we’re in a situation now where some people feel, I don’t know what the word is. Slighted maybe.”
Feb. 15: Phyllis Richardson, one of the protesters at the NAACP meeting, says the tumult was by design. She says the organization’s leadership invited Hunter without consulting their members, many who believe the Hunter situation is “beyond repair.”
Feb. 16: Chairman Charlotte Nash addresses the Hunter controversy in her “state of the county” address by delivering this comment, among others: “Let me be perfectly clear: Failure to respect all Gwinnettians and welcome their participation in our community is neither acceptable nor smart.”
Feb. 17: The hearing officer tasked with determining if the ethics complaint against Hunter meets the necessary “technical requirements” to move forward does so, meaning Gwinnett’s ethics board will be assembled for the first time ever.
Weathers, Hunter’s spokesman, calls the county’s ethics board “entirely unconstitutional.”
Feb. 21: Protesters show up again to speak against Hunter during a Board of Commissioners meeting. But Hunter leaves just as the public comment period begins.
Weathers says the commissioner will be skipping public comment at board meetings for the “foreseeable future.”
Feb. 24: News surfaces that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed sent a letter to United Consulting, the engineering firm where Hunter works as a vice president of business development.
In his letter, Reed calls Hunter’s comments “insulting, reprehensible and insulting.” He tells United Consulting, who does business with the city of Atlanta, to “let me know by close of business Monday, February 27 how you plan to resolve this matter.”
United Consulting sends a letter back to Reed, saying Hunter had been “disciplined as any other employee with the company would be disciplined for such a transgression.”
Feb. 28: Protesters turn out again for another tumultuous Board of Commissioners meeting, and Hunter again leaves before the open public comment period starts.
One protester tries another tactic, speaking out during the public hearing for rezoning issues in Hunter’s district.
March 6: A small group of protesters show up outside the Norcross office of United Consulting.
March 7: On a day when Hunter is “out of town on business,” the Board of Commissioners holds its regular meetings. It also appoints a familiar face to the ethics panel being assembled to investigate the complaint against Hunter.
Georgia’s Legislative Black Caucus, meanwhile, calls for the commissioner’s resignation.
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