ATLANTA — A new year means renewed focus on the Buckhead City movement. The effort is centered around separating the community of Buckhead from the City of Atlanta. Its leader, Chairman and CEO Bill White, is facing scrutiny over a controversial post on social media.
On New Year's Day, White quote tweeted a post from VDARE, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center says regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists.
In a since deleted tweet, White posted "Buckhead City NOW" in response to VDARE's tweet insinuating a higher crime rate in predominantly Black communities.
"It’s my mistake. I own it," White said. "I do not support whoever makes comments like that, whether it’s VDARE or anyone else. We condemn all forms of racism and racist talk. I’m sorry if my tweeting offended everybody. It offended me, that’s why I took it down.”
Neighbors for a United Atlanta, opponents of the Buckhead City movement, said White "tarnished Atlanta's reputation" in a scathing rebuke of his social post. Dr. Thaddeus L. Johnson, a criminologist at Georgia State University, said the premise of the original tweet is based on myth. He said as a public figure, White should have known better than to post what he did.
“There are some racist undertones there," Johnson said. "All it does is divide people. It doesn’t bring people together at all. That was miscalculated, misguided whether it was on purpose or not. You’re a leader, a public figure, and you have to be held accountable for mistakes.”
State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) drafted legislation that, if passed, would set up a referendum for 80,000 Buckhead residents to vote on cityhood in November. Rep. Shea Roberts (D-Sandy Springs), who is opposed to the cityhood movement, said precedent was being broken by filing legislation from outside a legislator's district and annexing from a city as opposed to a county.
Roberts said the Buckhead City movement was political grandstanding ahead of the 2022 election, and she criticized White for his social media post.
"It wasn’t super surprising, because we’ve all known he’s been affiliated with Trump and these more conservative movements," Roberts said. "I guess I was surprised at his carelessness to retweet something from such an obviously racist organization. To retweet something is such an affirmative action to send that same message out to your followers, essentially endorsing that you agree with what it says.”
White, a New York native who has appeared on Fox News and said he has known former President Donald Trump for 30 years, maintains he initially quote tweeted VDARE's post because of an article they posted about rising crime.
"Buckhead City is about no particular race," White said. "Buckhead City is about the human race and getting taxes down and crime under control.”