When President Trump visits Atlanta Monday night to attend college football’s national championship game, he may not remember just a year ago he described the city as “in horrible shape,” “falling apart” and “crime infested.”
But lots of people in Atlanta haven’t forgotten.
And some of them may be in the stands, protesting the President, when the University of Alabama takes on the University of Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in college football’s biggest game.
Trump’s disparaging comments about Atlanta came about a week before his inauguration last year, as part of a tweet attack that targeted civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis.
“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad,” Trump tweeted.
Lewis — who was brutally beaten by police in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 while marching for civil rights — represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which includes most of Atlanta.
The congressman was on the receiving end of Trump’s ire after Lewis said Trump wasn’t a “legitimate” president because of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Lewis also skipped Trump’s inauguration.
To many, Trump’s tweets were even more jarring because he took on an icon of the civil rights movement during the holiday weekend celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth.
In the 2016 election voters in Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, supported Hillary Clinton over Trump by more than 2 to 1.
Many Atlantans defended their city against Trump’s attacks, using the hashtag #defendthefifth as they talked up Atlanta’s many attributes, including being home to the world’s busiest airport, one of the world’s largest aquariums, and, for transparency, the headquarters of CNN.
Protesters are ready
Now, a group called Refuse Facism ATL says it is organizing a “Take a Knee” protest against the President outside of the stadium.
“Trump dissed Atlanta by calling it ‘crime infested’ … and now, he thinks he can just stroll into Atlanta and watch football on Monday?” the group asks in a Facebook post.
The Atlanta chapter of the NAACP also says it wants to see protests of Trump’s presence in Atlanta — not just outside the stadium but inside as well. The civil rights group wants people attending the game to wave white towels.
“We will not let the President’s visit go without a response. If you are lucky enough to attend the game, we encourage you to bring a white towel to wave simulating a blizzard while the president is in the packed stadium,” the chapter said Sunday on its Facebook page. “Trump supporters mockingly call the opposition snowflakes, but when we come together we create a mighty storm.”
The President was last in Atlanta during the spring to address the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association.