At a Tarrant, Alabama city council meeting on Monday, a white councilman used a racial slur about Black people, causing noticeable shock among meeting attendees and upsetting one councilwoman so much that she had to step away from the meeting.
According to a report Tuesday in the state-focused website Bama Politics, councilman Tommy Bryant, 76, stood up and loudly asked: “Do we have a house n***** in here?” He says this about 1 hour and 41 minute mark of the Facebook video above.
Bryant could be heard making the outburst during an exchange with Tarrant’s first Black mayor, 41-year-old Wayman Newton, over some of Bryant’s wife’s racially-provocative comments on Facebook.
The video that the City of Tarrant posted to its Facebook page backs up this account.
Bryant’s shocking statement, which drew gasps from others present at the meeting, came right after someone in the audience accused Bryant’s wife of also using the slur on Facebook, according to the Bama Politics report.
That report states:
What lead to Bryant’s use of the racial slur during the meeting starts when a citizen identified as Chuck appears to stand up for Bryant, accusing the other city council members of using Bryant as a punching bag. Chuck asks Bryant why he hasn’t defended himself in the past and then asks Bryant to do that.
For the next few minutes, Bryant takes the floor and his points are scattered. Bryant and Newton have a few back and forth exchanges and Bryant complains about being interrupted by others in the past. Just after the 1 hour and 38-minute mark in the video, Newton takes the floor and brings up Bryant’s wife and her social media posts. From there, the exchange grows with another city council member commenting about his wife’s social media posts and Bryant defending himself stating that his wife does not speak for him.
Just before the 1 hour and 41-minute mark, an unidentified person in the audience states that Bryant’s wife used the n-word on Facebook. This leads directly into Bryant’s use of the racial slur saying, “Let’s get to the n-word.” before using the line “Do we have a house n***er in here”, pointing to his left, apparently directing attention to city council member Veronica Freeman and claiming that Newton used the slur in reference to her.
Around a minute later, Freeman, who is sitting next to Newton, is seen—and heard—sobbing. After a moment, councilwoman Deborah Matthews, who is sitting to Freeman’s left, whispers something to Freeman, who then leaves her chair. Off-camera, Freeman can still be heard crying.
The animosity between Bryant and Newton isn’t anything new. As the Daily Beast reported in June, Newton, who is the city’s first Black mayor, says he has been facing significant opposition from a small group of mostly white residents in Tarrant. One of these people, former Tarrant police chief Dennis Reno, went so far as to have Newton arrested for assault, alleging that Newton slammed a door on his arm. Surveillance video included in the Beast story shows otherwise. Newton called the move a stunt, the result of Newton challenging Reno over what Newton said was a longstanding practice of not hiring Black police officers—a charge that Reno denied.
For his part, Bryant, who is Tarrant’s longest-serving councilman, also shared his distaste for Newton with the Daily Beast.
“He’s a dictatorial person,” Bryant said. “Reminds me of Adolf Hitler.”
Law&Crime’s requests to Tarrant City Council members for comment were not immediately returned.
[Video courtesy City of Tarrant Facebook page]