Press Statement: GALEO Expresses Disappointment with Leadership Atlanta for Panel On Immigration to Include Member of Hate Groups
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO
(ATLANTA, GEORGIA) September 19, 2017 – Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO released the following statement regarding an upcoming forum on “Immigration-A Balanced Debate of the Facts” by Leadership Atlanta.
“As an alumni, current dues paying member and recently a former trustee of Leadership Atlanta, it pains me to have to make a public statement about an organization that has done a lot to promote ongoing leadership development in the Metro Atlanta region. However, despite repeated attempts to raise awareness of the invited panelist’s association with hate groups, Leadership Atlanta remained steadfast in their invitation to Phil Kent as a panelist for the upcoming event.
Post Charlottesville, when the event was being planned and coordinated, several members of the immigrant and refugee rights community had objected to the inclusion of Phil Kent on the panel discussion on immigration. At a time when racial tensions are at an all time high and when members of hate groups, white nationalists and racists were getting significant media attention, Leadership Atlanta failed to take a stand on the inclusion of a member of hate groups to an important discussion on immigration.
Phil Kent is well known in the anti-immigrant circuit and he has not distanced himself from these hate groups. Both the Southern Poverty Law Center (read here) and the Anti-Defamation League (read here) have raised concerns about his association with these hate groups. Civil rights groups have opposed his current position on the Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board (read here). Despite all of these concerns, Leadership Atlanta persisted on keeping Phil Kent on a panel to discuss immigration.
Leadership Atlanta considers Phil Kent a ‘legitimate’ viewpoint for the discussion on immigration. The criteria laid out by Leadership Atlanta for inclusion in the forum was that he was appointed to an official position and has had many national media interviews. By that criteria, Richard Spencer, a well known white supremacist (read more here), would be a welcome panelist for future Leadership Atlanta forums on race. Spencer is a former elected official and has conducted many national media interviews about his white nationalist views after the violence in Charlottesville. Would Leadership Atlanta consider Richard Spencer a legitimate voice to share his ‘balanced’ view on race? No, I do not think so. However, Leadership Atlanta feels perfectly comfortable with the inclusion of someone whose views side with white nationalism against immigrants.
It is disappointing to see Leadership Atlanta legitimize someone like Phil Kent and legitimize his white nationalist views to an audience of some of Atlanta’s leaders. His continued inclusion on the panel stains the good reputation of the organization and I remain deeply disappointed in the failure of moral leadership by this organization.”
The event is an alumni program and only open to dues paying members and guests.
Date/Time of Event: Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM.
Location and host: Metro Atlanta Chamber, 191 Peachtree Street NE, #3400, Atlanta, GA, 30303.
Contact for Leadership Atlanta: