A city council member in Alabama has come under fire for blurting out a racist slur Monday during a city council meeting. Not only did his inappropriate comment shock everyone at the meeting, but he allegedly used the term when talking about a fellow council member. As if using the slur wasn’t bad enough, Tommy Bryant, a council member in Tarrant, used it to describe Veronica Freeman, a Black colleague.
“Do we have a house n— in here? Do we? Do we? Will she please stand up?” Bryant said. The racist comment came moments after a member of the audience questioned Bryant about his wife using the same slur on Facebook, Bama Politics reported. Shortly after Bryant used the slur, Freeman can be seen sobbing into her hands, visibly upset as she left the meeting. Bama Politics posted the clip on YouTube, which quickly garnered attention on social media.
Of course, Bryant, like other conservatives, refused to acknowledge his actions or apologize. He instead defended his use of the racial slur by accusing the town’s mayor, Mayor Wayman Newton, of using the term to describe Freeman before, claiming that he only repeated it to amplify its use. “I heard a comment from the (unclear) where someone made that comment. And I thought it be proper to go ahead and bring it to light,” Bryant said in an interview with NBC News affliate WVTM 13. “The mayor called Veronica Freeman a stupid h-n. He doesn’t need to use that term in front of everybody, and I thought the city ought to know what kind of terminology the mayor uses.”
Bryant continued on to defend his actions by claiming his use of the term and Newton’s were different so it was okay for him to repeat it. “He said it in a derogatory manner, I said it so people would know what the mayor said,” Bryant said. “The mayor was being derogatory toward Veronica Freeman when he said that.”
Newton is the town’s first Black mayor, tensions between him and Bryant have been ongoing before the July 19 city council meeting comments, according to The Daily Beast. The outlet reported that the town of Tarrant faces consistent racial issues, with a small group of mostly white residents opposing Newton. Bryant has allegedly only encouraged this animosity with attempts to provoke Newton, including an incident where Bryant admitted he called Newton a “little boy” to try to instigate a fight. “I was trying to piss him off to see if he’d come after me,” Bryant said of the incident. “He [Newton] is a dictatorial person,” he continued. “Reminds me of Adolf Hitler.” This incident allegedly occurred after Newton spoke up in regards to a lack of Black officers in the town.
In regards to Bryant’s actions, Newton told AL.com. that “the video speaks for itself.” He did not respond to Bryant’s allegations of him using the n-word toward Freeman.
In addition to using the n-word, Bryant also falsely stated that Muslims are compelled by their religion to kill non-believers. His racist comments and behavior have prompted many to call for his resignation.
“We were astonished. No one left, because we were actually very very in shock as to what he had said,” Tarrant resident Waynette Bonham told CBS42.“I was like this was the person that is supposed to be serving our communities? Like, this is supposed to be our representation, he has his own district in Tarrant? No,” Bonham added. “I think he should resign because he was way too comfortable standing up and using that word in front of a group of people of color.”
The Alabama Democratic Party called for Bryant’s resignation and said that Bryant was a “racist unfit to serve.” “Alabama still has a long way to go when it comes to race, but cozying up to the KKK and using the n-word should make you unfit to serve,” the party’s executive director Wade Perry said.
Bryant’s actions are being condemned beyond party lines, with both Democrats and Republicans having issued statements condemning his comment.
“The Alabama Republican Party is deeply troubled by the racially charged outburst and disrespect shown by Councilman Tommy Bryant. Such language is completely unacceptable in any setting, and even more concerning coming from an elected official,” Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl said in a statement. “We are proud to have Mayor Wayman Newton as a member of the Jefferson County Republican Party and deeply appreciate his commitment to serving his constituents honorably, even in the face of adversity.”
While Wahl condemned his actions, he did not suggest Bryant should step down. Nevertheless, despite his history of racist comments and actions, Bryant did not apologize and expresses no remorse either. During an interview Tuesday, Bryant said he will not and has no intentions to resign; instead, he actually may plan to run for mayor.
Freeman did not directly comment on the issue, but her attorney issued the following statement: “The statements constitute unconscionable racial discrimination and harassment. Such statements are also deeply hurtful and absolutely unacceptable in our society.”
Unfortunately, incidents like this are not as uncommon as you’d think. In April a judge from Colorado resigned after using the same racial slur in front of her Black employees, Daily Kos reported. Despite knowing how disrespectful and wrong the term is some individuals don’t care and are too ignorant to stop using it.
Watch the clip for yourself below:
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