Tommy Bryant, the city councilman for the city of Tarrant, Alabama, is being pressured to resign after he used a racial slur at a public council meeting. The incident was caught on video, horrifying many people in the audience.
Waynette Bonham, a resident of Tarrant, was in the audience when the event took place. “We were astonished,” Bonham recalled. “No one left, because we were actually very very in shock as to what he had said.”
In the video, Bryant is heard using the n-word in reference to his fellow city councilwoman, Veronica Freeman. During the exchange, Bryant says, “Hey, do we have a house n—– in here? Do we? Do we? Would she please stand up?”
Tommy Bryant used the racial slur because someone in the audience accused his wife of using the n-word in a Facebook post. Bryant claims that he was quoting the current Mayor of Tarrant, Wayman Newton, who is the city’s first black mayor. According to the councilman, the mayor used this slur toward Freeman during another meeting. Newton has denied these claims.
The Alabama Democratic and Republican Party have both released statements condemning the Tarrant City Councilman’s language during Monday’s meeting. The Alabama Democratic Party released the following statement:
“Last night, Tarrant City Council Member John ‘Tommy’ Bryant stood up and used the n-word at a City Council Meeting. He is a racist and unfit to serve,” the party said. “He now joins fellow racists and Republicans Rep. Will Dismukes, Blount County Commissioner Dean Calvert as embarrassments to Alabama and the Republican party. These racists belong in the history books with Bull Connor and George Wallace, not on the taxpayer’s payroll.”
The Republican Party said that Bryant’s language was disrespectful and unacceptable for a city official. Despite pressure from both sides and many of his fellow councilmembers – including the city’s mayor – Bryant refuses to resign and says that he is even thinking about running for mayor.
Mayor Newton and Councilman John Bryant have had a tense history. In an article published by The Daily Beast, Newton describes a moment when Bryant called him a “little boy.” In history, the use of this phrase about a black man is meant to belittle him. The article goes into the specific racial discrimination that the mayor has faced and what he has seen in the city of Tarrant.
The two men have been at odds about many logistical moves when it comes to Tarrant. Mayor Newton is trying to improve the city for the black members of the community, who have been subjected to racial discrimination.
The mayor is trying to hire more black police officers, but Bryant and other members of the council have rejected his suggestions. Currently, there are no black officers on the Tarrant police force despite the black population of the city being nearly 3,000.
During the council meeting when Bryant used the racial slur, Newton suggested that the town have a meeting about racial discrimination. Bryant responded by saying that he would have to think about whether he could make it.