An Alabama Republican is facing calls for his resignation after he used the N-word to refer to a Black fellow councilmember during a meeting on Monday, July 19.
Tarrant City councilman John Bryant, who goes by Tommy Bryant, used the slur at the July 19 council meeting to refer to fellow councilor Veronica Freeman in what local Republicans have called a “racially charged outburst.” When Bryant used the term during the recorded meeting, asking if there was a “house n—er” present, others in the room audibly gasped.
Bryant later attempted to explain away his usage of the slur by claiming Mayor Waymon Newton had used the word to refer to Freeman, although his explanation has not been well-received. The Alabama Democratic Party has called for Bryant to resign, describing him as 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,” Wade Perry, the party’s executive director, said in a statement. “These racists belong in the history books with Bull Connor and George Wallace, not on the taxpayer’s payroll.”
Bryant made the remark during a conversation about his wife after she allegedly used the N-word in a Facebook post, according to another councilmember.
Bryant responded to the allegation, saying, “Hey, do we have a house n—er in here?” Others in the room gasped as Bryant asked, “Do we? Hey, do we? Would she please stand up?” he said, gesturing toward Freeman.
“Ya’ll seeing this, right? Cameras?” a man asked, before Freeman left the room visibly upset.
Bryant claimed on Tuesday, speaking to WVTM-TV9, that he thought he should bring it to light that Mayor Newton had referred to Freeman as a “stupid HN.” According to Bryant, “he doesn’t need to use that term…and I thought that the city ought to know what kind of terminology the mayor uses and I didn’t want him to get away with it, so that’s the reason I made that comment.”
When a man told Bryant some people might think his words came off “a little racist,” and asked him what his response was, Bryant replied, saying things need to be nipped in the bud and called for a need to “be like John Wayne, come at it with a bull…we need to stop the racial slurs that the mayor makes, and he’s always picking on Veronica Freeman, that needs to be brought out. The mayor bullies her and the city needs to know what kind of mayor he is and what kind of vocabulary he has.”
Newton told AL.com on Tuesday in regards to Bryant’s comments, “The video speaks for itself,” and said Wednesday that he has not used the derogatory term.
“They are trying to expose me for saying something I did not say,” Newton said. “All of that was a political stunt that they did not do very well.”
Newton said that Bryant and Freeman have worked together to block his proposals as the first Black mayor of the city.
“I never used that phrase to speak about her,” Newton said. “Ask them to produce the video. They record everything. They should have their own recording. They want me out. He (Bryant) wants to run for mayor.”
In a statement to CBS42, Freeman’s attorney said, “The statements constitute unconscionable racial discrimination and harassment. Such statements are also deeply hurtful and absolutely unacceptable in our society.”
Bryant also has said that he will not resign and will consider running for mayor.