Alabama councilman shocks meeting attendees by using the N-word

‘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’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 21 July 2021 19:27 BST
Alabama councilman shocks meeting by using n-word

A councilman shocked meeting attendees in Tarrant, Alabama by using the N-word.

Despite an outraged reaction, city council member Tommy Bryant is remaining defiant and has said he might run for mayor.

Mr Bryant has been criticised by residents and is facing calls for his resignation after the Monday meeting when he stood up and asked loudly: “Do we have a house n***** in here?”

He used the racial slur after a person in the audience asked a question about his wife reportedly using the n-word on Facebook, Bama Politics reported.

The Daily Beast reported on the racial tensions in Tarrant late last month. Town resident Waynette Bonham, a 41-year-old Black woman, told the outlet that it’s clear that Mayor Wayman Newton, the first Black mayor of the town with 7.000 residents, has some enemies.

Calling the weekly city council meetings “embarrassing,” she said Mr Bryant “is trying to oppose anything Mayor Newton is doing. And Mayor Newton is trying to correct the things that had been so bad about the city of Tarrant from the previous administration — like not having Black officers”.

According to census data, Tarrant is 53 per cent Black.

Mr Bryant told the outlet that his issues with the mayor had nothing to do with race but stemmed from Mr Newton changing the established way of doing things around the town. He added that the mayor had made city employees fearful because of his temperament.

“He is a dictatorial person,” the 76-year-old Mr Bryant told The Daily Beast about the mayor. “Reminds me of Adolf Hitler.”

Mr Bryant has served on the council for 12 years and said he’s lived in Tarrant for the majority of his life.

Mr Newton said he’d used “foul language” at one point in private with Mr Bryant after the councilman had called him “boy”.

“If you know anything about the history of the South and race relations, to have some 75-year-old man calling a 40-year-old Black man a boy is very insulting,” Mr Newton told The Daily Beast.

Mr Bryant said he had called Mr Newton “little boy”.

“I was trying to p*** him off to see if he’d come after me,” he said.

During Monday’s city council meeting, an attendee identified as Chuck appears to back Mr Bryant, arguing that the other council members are using him as a punching bag, Bama Politics report.

Chuck asks Mr Bryant why he hasn’t defended himself previously, prompting him to do so now. Mr Bryant speaks for the next few minutes, at times having exchanges with Mr Newton. The mayor then brings up Mr Bryant’s wife and her social media posts, with another council member joining the discussion. Mr Bryant says his wife doesn’t speak for him.

As the discussion escalates, an unidentified audience member says Mr Bryant’s wife used the N-word on Facebook.

“Let’s get to the N-word,” Mr Bryant says before adding “Do we have a house n***** in here?” seemingly in reference to city council member Veronica Freeman. Mr Bryant claimed that Mr Newton had used the racial slur in reference to her. Ms Freeman could later be seen crying, according to Bama Politics.

Alabama councilman shocks meeting by using n-word

Mr Newton then proposes a town hall meeting on racial tensions in the city and asks Mr Bryant if he would take part, to which Mr Bryant says he would “have to think about that”.

“The Alabama Republican Party is deeply troubled by the racially charged outburst and disrespect shown by Councilman Tommy Bryant,” chairman John Wahl said in a statement. “Such language is completely unacceptable in any setting, and even more concerning coming from an elected official. We are proud to have Mayor Wayman Newton as a member of the Jefferson County Republican Party and deeply appreciate his commitment to serving his constituents honourably, even in the face of adversity.”

The Alabama Democratic Party called for Mr Bryant to resign on Tuesday, saying that he’s “a racist and unfit to serve”.

“Alabama still has a long way to go when it comes to race, but cosying up to the KKK and using the N-word should make you unfit to serve,” executive director Wade Perry said in a statement.

Mr Bryant has reportedly been defiant following the calls for his resignation and has instead indicated that he might run for mayor.

Arguing that he was using the N-word to show what the mayor had said during an earlier interaction, Mr Bryant told WVTM-TV: “I did what needed to be done. It needed to be brought to light what kind of a person the mayor is.”

When asked if he was a racist, he said: “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.”

The entire meeting can be viewed in full below.

Tarrant, AL City Council Meeting, July 19, 2021

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