GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - The Gwinnett County commissioner who was criticized for making “racist” comments on Facebook about Georgia Congressman John Lewis has apologized, but said he won’t resign from his position.
Tommy Hunter, who serves as commissioner for Gwinnett County District 3, called John Lewis a "racist pig" in a post on his Facebook page. The message has since been deleted, but some are calling for his resignation.
The apology is being called too little, too late by Gwinnett County residents and supporters of the representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District. Supporters jeered for his resignation amid a packed auditorium at the Justice Center in Lawrenceville even as Hunter read his words of regret, calling his own post “an overreaction.” Hunter acknowledged he went too far and attributed his actions to being overcome with emotions.
Commissioner Tommy Hunter later sent his full remarks to FOX 5 News reading:
“Many of you are here in response to my personal Facebook comments that were shared in the media over the last 24 hours. I understand emotions are high and many are upset about the post. I apologize for the choice of words I made about Congressman John Lewis. John Lewis as a leader of the civil rights movement is to be commended and emulated. That doesn’t mean that I will always agree with him politically. I will not allow baseless accusations of racism against me or anyone to keep people from speaking up when something is wrong. I have learned a lot from this and will continue to work hard to serve all of District 3 and the people of Gwinnett County.”
VIDEO REPORT: Gwinnett County commissioner under fire
Board Chairwoman Charlotte Nash publicly denounced the remarks post Tuesday afternoon and shared the letter she sent to Rep. Lewis hours earlier.
“Hurtful words have no place in governing,” said Nash, who received passionate applause after reading her entire letter.
VIDEO REPORT: Congressmen who calls John Lewis a "racist pig" speaks
Then, Hunter sat and listened as scores of angry residents urged him to resign.
“I don’t know you, but I am ashamed of you. It is unbecoming of a human to use the language you used, but even worse for an elected official to make those comments," said Helen Ho.
“I found your remarks abhorrent and disrespectful, especially for someone who serves one of the most diverse counties in the state of Georgia,” said Maesha Mansoor.
“Sir, you have breached the public trust. Though his constituents are in District Three, he represents the entire county. It’s disgraceful,” said Veronica Jones.
The protests again Hunter spilled outside the meeting with picketers holding signs condemning the county commissioner.
Hunter earlier explained he was offended by the comments Rep. Lewis made about President-Elect Donald Trump.
Rep. Lewis angered Trump when he told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he views Trump as an "illegitimate president" because, he said, Russian hackers damaged the prospects of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump retorted on Twitter that Lewis is "all talk" and said his Atlanta-based district is "falling apart" and "crime infested.
The Democratic Party of Gwinnett County issued a statement, calling Hunter’s actions “disgraceful.”
Gabe Okoye said he had just returned from a parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King when he read Hunter’s comments.
“Honestly folks, it's OK to disagree with Congressman Lewis," said Gabe Okoye, a Gwinnett County resident. "But you don't have to do it by name calling on social media.”
“His remarks not only reflect poorly on himself but also on Gwinnett County,” Okoye said.