An investigation has been launched into a racist text message received by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms late Wednesday (April 22).
The mayor was targeted because of her response to the reopening of businesses throughout Georgia despite the spread of COVID-19. State Attorney General Chris Carr ordered the prosecution division of his office to open the probe after being urged by Georgia Democratic legislators, a spokesperson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
They said that the text sent to Bottoms’ phone suggested that it had come from a state government email account.
“Though it is unlikely this came from a sanctioned georgia.gov account, we request that your office immediately investigate to make sure that a State employee did not send this text message,” the lawmakers wrote. “In the more likely event that this text came from a spoof account purporting to be from a georgia.gov email address, we also request that your office investigate and determine the culprits behind this intimidating message.”
The text, which attacked Bottoms and called her the n-word, came after she appeared on numerous media outlets to openly respond to Gov. Brian Kemp’s directive that businesses throughout the state of Georgia could reopen on Friday (with movie theaters and restaurants reopening on Monday, April 27.) Kemp’s decision has brought a deluge of criticism nationwide including from mayors throughout the state who are trying to deal with the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in their municipalities.
"With my daughter looking over my shoulder, I received this message on my phone. I pray for you," Bottoms said in her response shared on her social media platforms.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The content below contains racist language]
In an interview with BET.com, Bottoms said many in Atlanta have not been receptive to Kemp’s plan to reopen the state until it is safe to do so.
“Overwhelmingly, what I'm hearing is that people think it's a terrible idea,” Bottoms said. “People are confused. They don't understand and [are] asking, ‘Is it safe to go back?’ I’ve heard restaurant owners say that they will not reopen because it will be more devastating to their business to reopen and then to shut down again. They're not going to put their people at risk. I've also seen people who have said, ‘I don't have a choice… I gotta go back to work.’ So that's heartbreaking when you see that because you see the fear in their eyes.”
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, more than 22,000 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus and 892 have died -- a two-day increase in deaths of 46.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Photo Credit: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit