Racist text will not stop Atlanta mayor from speaking up for residents

By Eliott C. McLaughlin and Amara Walker, CNN

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had to have a discussion with her 12-year-old son after the pair received a racist text regarding her efforts to keep the city closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, she said Thursday.

In a Wednesday night tweet, the mayor said she received a text addressing her by the n-word and demanding, "just shut up and RE-OPEN ATLANTA!"

Her son received the same text, she later told the city council. When Bottoms opened the text on her phone, she said, her daughter was looking over her shoulder as she read it.

Bottoms included in her tweet, "I pray for you. 'Conscientious stupidity or sincere ignorance'" -- a nod to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assertion that nothing is more dangerous than these two human characteristics.

"I have searched my head and my heart on this and I am at a loss as to what the governor is basing this decision on," Bottoms said earlier this week. "You have to live to fight another day, and you have to be able to be amongst the living to be able to recover."

Disagreement over courses of action have been a theme during the pandemic, with residents in some states staging protests over the decision to shut down parts of their economies, while local leaders, governors and the federal government bicker over the best way forward.

20When a city council member asked Bottoms on Thursday how she was handling the racist abuse, she said her family was fine but that it was disturbing that her son received the same message.

"That was more concerning to me than anything," she said.

She had a "very long conversation" with civil rights activist and former ambassador Andrew Young Thursday morning, and he reminded her that "white supremacy is a sickness."

Bottoms will not stop speaking up for and defending Atlantans, she told the city council. "We are not cowards. Cowards don't run for office," she said.

The number from which the text originated is not a real phone number. It contains only nine digits. The number has been used in phishing scams, according to online reports, and it was included in a federal cyberstalking case out of Washington D.C. in which the defendant was accused of using technology that enables anonymity to send harassing messages to an ex-girlfriend.


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