A white city councilman in a Birmingham suburb shocked residents earlier this week when he pointed to a Black councilwoman during a meeting and yelled: “Do we have a house n----- in here?”
Tommy Bryant, a member of the city council in Tarrant, Alabama, made the comment during an exchange with other members who are Black, including Mayor Wayman Newton and fellow councilmember Veronica Freeman, over Facebook posts made by Bryant’s wife.
Bryant looks toward Freeman as he makes the comment, which draws gasps from the audience and causes one man to exclaim, “What the fuck?” Bryant then explains, “That’s what the mayor called her.”
A minute later, a visibly shaken Freeman leaves the room sobbing.
The embedded video contains graphic, racist language.
Bryant has refused to resign amid calls to step down, and told CBS 42 Tuesday that he “may even consider running for mayor next time.”
“It is ok for me to repeat it because as I said before, I wanted everybody to know what the mayor had said,” Bryant told reporters. “He said it in a derogatory manner, I said it so that people would know what the mayor said.”
Both Newton and Bryant are Republicans. Since Newton’s election as the town’s first Black mayor last year, however, he’s been engaged with a feud with the city’s white establishment. This includes not only Bryant but the town’s former police chief, who accused Newton of assaulting him during a meeting in November, the Daily Beast reported last month. (Newton has denied the claims and posted to Facebook security footage from his office, which shows nothing of the sort happening. The former police chief, Dennis Reno, said Newton hasn’t released all the footage.)
“[Newton] is a dictatorial person,” Bryant told the Daily Beast last month. “Reminds me of Adolf Hitler.”
Alabama Republican Party chair John Wahl said the party was “deeply troubled by the racially charged outburst, and disrespect shown by Councilman Tommy Bryant” in a statement to AL.com and expressed support for Newton, but stopped short of calling for Bryant’s resignation.
A call to Freeman’s office went to voicemail and was not immediately returned. Freeman’s attorney, however, told CBS 42 that the statements “constitute unconscionable racial discrimination and harassment. Such statements are also deeply hurtful and absolutely unacceptable in our society.”
Newton told AL.com and CBS 42 that the footage of Bryant using the n-word “speaks for itself.” At least one other member of the city council, however, said Bryant should step down.
“Tommy Bryant is a distraction to all the change to our city and he needs to resign,” city councilwoman Tracie Threadford told CBS 42.