Georgia officials are investigating a racist text received by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Attorney General Chris Carr directed his office’s prosecution division to investigate who sent the text, spokeswoman Katie Byrd said Friday.
Bottoms on Wednesday tweeted that she got a text to her personal cellphone addressing her by a racial slur and telling her “Just shut up and RE-OPEN ATLANTA.” Bottoms, an African American Democrat, has been an outspoken critic of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to allow some businesses to resume operations after he earlier shut them by executive order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“With my daughter looking over my shoulder, I received this message on my phone. I pray for you,” Bottoms tweeted, going on to paraphrase a quote from Martin Luther King. Jr. that nothing is more dangerous than “conscientious stupidity or sincere ignorance.”
Carr launched the inquiry after 15 Democratic state lawmakers who represent Atlanta asked him to. The Democrats argue a crime may have been committed in part because the text purported to originate from a state email address — ReOpen@Georgia.gov. They said either a state employee sent it, or more likely, someone illegally spoofed a state email address.
“We expect your office is equally concerned, and we request that you immediately begin an investigation to determine the individuals or individuals behind this text message so they can be held responsible,” the lawmakers wrote. “Your office should be able to obtain the necessary subpoenas to unmask the individuals responsible for this.”
The lawmakers said Bottoms would cooperate with the investigation and aid Carr in seeking subpoenas to “unmask the individuals responsible for this.”
Bottoms told Atlanta City Council members on Thursday during a conference call that her 12-year-old son had also received the text, which she described as “more concerning to me than anything.” She said she had spoken to former Atlanta mayor and United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, “and he just reminded me that white supremacy is a sickness.”
Bottoms said that “cowards don’t run for office.”
“I will continue to use my voice to speak on behalf of our community,” she said.
Bottoms has been a prominent supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid, with some people mentioning her as a possible vice presidential pick.
Democratic State Sen. Jen Jordan, one of the signers of the letter, tweeted that she was “grateful” for Carr’s investigation.
“It sends the message that this sort of racism and hate won’t be tolerated,” she wrote.
House Speaker David Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican also sent a statement hailing Carr’s move, saying “anyone who would attempt to masquerade as acting on behalf of state government deserves to be met with the full force of law.”