Tarrant city council member Tommy Bryant claims he was quoting the mayor when he used the n-word in reference to a colleague

By Virginia Chamlee
July 22, 2021 04:45 PM
Tommy Bryant
Tommy Bryant
| Credit: Tarrant city council/ Facebook

Days after using a racist slur in reference to a Black female colleague, a city council member in Alabama told news outlets he won't apologize or resign, even saying he might run for mayor.

Tommy Bryant, a member of the city council in Tarrant, can be seen on footage of a Monday meeting using the n-word after being questioned about controversial social media posts allegedly made by his wife, a local CBS affiliate reported.

"The n-word. The n-word. Let's get to the n-word. Hey. Do we have a house n***** in here? Do we? Hey. Would she please stand up?" Bryant can be heard saying on the video, while he gestures to fellow city council member Veronica Freeman, who is Black. "That's what the mayor called her."

The Associated Press reported that some members of the audience gasped at his use of the slur, and that Freeman left in tears.

Later, Bryant attempted to defend himself to reporters by saying it was "OK" for him to use the word because he had been repeating a term he said the town mayor — who is Black — had used earlier.

"It is OK for me to repeat it because as I said before, I wanted everybody to know what the mayor had said," he said. "He said it in a derogatory manner, I said it so that people would know what the mayor said."

Bryant told WVTM-TV that he did "what needed to be done" in using the slur because "It needed to be brought to light what kind of a person the mayor is."

In a statement sent to PEOPLE, Newton disputed Bryant's claim. "I did not call Councilor Freeman what Councilor Bryant is alleging," the statement read. "It's very unfortunate that Councilor Freeman and Councilor Bryant have created this distraction for our City to serve their personal interests."

Alabama Democrats executive director Wade Perry said Bryant is "racist and unfit to serve," and joins other racists as "embarrassments to Alabama and the Republican party."

"All Alabamians should be calling on Republican political leaders like Governor Kay Ivey and US Senate Candidate Katie Britt to demand the immediate resignation of these overt racists," Perry said. "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. These racists belong in the history books with Bull Connor and George Wallace, not on the taxpayer's payroll."

In its own statement, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said the state GOP was "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," Wahl said. "We are proud to have Mayor Wayman Newton as a member of the Jefferson County Republican Party, and we stand behind him 100%."

Through an attorney, Freeman released her own statement on the slur, CBS 42 reported: "The statements constitute unconscionable racial discrimination and harassment. Such statements are also deeply hurtful and absolutely unacceptable in our society."

Bryant, meanwhile, isn't backing down from using the word and, when asked if he planned to apologize, told reporters: "Absolutely not. I may even consider running for mayor next time."

When asked if he was racist, Bryant told WVTM-TV: "It's according to what your definition of the word racist is. What a lot of the public's definition is, I might be a racist. But according to what the true definition of a racist is, absolutely not."