Angry protesters storm meeting, demand commissioner resign

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Protesters stormed a local county commission meeting Tuesday, demanding a commissioner step down.

A day after Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter acknowledged his controversial comments, he apologized for calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a "racist pig."

Gwinnett County Chairman Charlotte Nash said she has personally apologized to Lewis for the comments of her colleague.

In an auditorium filled with several dozen protesters, Nash read a letter she said she sent to Lewis on Tuesday morning. The letter offered her “sincere apologies and regrets” for what she called Hunter’s “disrespectful” comments about the civil rights icon.

“Using hurtful words and name-calling should not have a place in governing,” Nash said.

She got a round of applause.

When Hunter apologized for his “choice of words,” he also defended himself. That drew chants of “Resign! Resign! Resign!” from the crowd.

Hunter sent Channel 2's Tony Thomas the following statement: "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."

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Speaker after speaker took to the podium Tuesday during the public comments time to blast Hunter.

"To call him a racist pig is one of the most disgraceful things you can do," Jim Shealey said.

"You need to step down. You need to resign," Kim Proctor said. "That needs to be your lesson. You can look away and do whatever you want to do Mr. Hunter. But in your heart, you know you need to resign."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.