Tumult at NAACP meeting with embattled Gwinnett leader was by design

Tommy Hunter's meeting with the Gwinnett NAACP ended abruptly Tuesday night, as members of the organization shouted over each other, chanted and otherwise hampered the embattled commissioner's attempts to speak.

One of the members-turned-protesters was Phyllis Richardson. She said Wednesday the disruption was planned beforehand, that the appearance of the Hunter  — who has been the target of backlash since calling civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis a "racist pig" on Facebook last month — was not "the will of the people."

Richardson, who said she’s a member of the Gwinnett NAACP but not an “active” one, claimed the organization’s leadership invited Hunter without consulting its members, many who believe the situation is “beyond repair.” She also took issue with the questions that were asked of Hunter on Tuesday night, most of which attempted to address the larger picture of the county government’s approach to minority communities.

“They had nothing to do with his character, they were all related to what the county is doing as far as growth, and what the county is doing as far as diversity,” Richardson said. “ ... It was all orchestrated. It was all planned. We’re not crazy, we’re not stupid.”

Hunter's presence at Tuesday night's meeting at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center was billed as a bridge-building opportunity and a "moderated discussion." But Richardson and a few other protesters caused disruptions from the beginning, shouting and holding signs while standing alongside the podium where the commissioner was speaking.

Hunter attempted to soldier through several questions before Seth Weathers, a consultant who has acted as his spokesman, ushered him out of the room.

Marlyn Tillman, the president of the Gwinnett NAACP, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. Asked Tuesday night about the uproar, she said that “people don’t understand how to leverage opportunities as best possible.”

Read full coverage of that visit and Tuesday night's tumultuous meeting on myAJC.com