A white Alabama city councilman referred to a black colleague as a “house n—-r” during a public meeting, prompting gasps from the audience and calls for him to step down.
Tarrant City Councilman Tommy Bryant used the racial slur during a council meeting Monday while gesturing toward Councilwoman Veronica Freeman, who later left the meeting visibly shaken.
Video shows an agitated Bryant discussing social media posts allegedly made by his wife with Mayor Wayman Newton and another councilwoman when someone in the audience claimed Bryant’s wife used a racial epithet.
That prompted Bryant to slam his hand on a desk, saying “let’s get to the N-word,” video shows.
“Hey, do we have a house n—-r in here?” Bryant said, eliciting gasps from the crowd. “Do we? Hey, do we?”
Bryant then raised his hand toward Freeman, saying: “Would she please stand up? That’s what the mayor called her, what do you think about that?”
Bryant claimed he was merely repeating what Newman had previousuly called Freeman, a claim the mayor denied, AL.com reported.
“They are trying to expose me for saying something I did not say,” Newton told the outlet. “All of that was a political stunt that they did not do very well.”
Newton alleged Freeman has joined with Bryant and other white city councilmembers to block his proposals, including to reorganize Tarrant’s finance department, AL.com reported.
“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. [Bryant] wants to run for mayor.”
Bryant told WBRC he said the slur to call out the mayor and said he has no plans to step down. Alabama Democrats have called for his resignation, saying in a statement he’s “racist and 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 statement read. “These racists belong in the history books with Bull Connor and George Wallace, not on the taxpayer’s payroll.”
The Alabama NAACP chapter is also calling on Bryant to resign, AL.com reported.
Bryant insisted he was OK to use the term because Newton had previously used it in a “derogatory manner” toward Freeman.
“Absolutely not,” Bryant told WIAT when asked if he’ll resign. “I may even consider running for mayor next time.”
An attorney for Freeman, meanwhile, said Bryant’s outburst was clearly out of bounds.
“The statements constitute unconscionable racial discrimination and harassment,” Freeman’s attorney said. “Such statements are also deeply hurtful and absolutely unacceptable in our society.”
Attempts to reach Bryant Thursday were unsuccessful.