TARRANT, Ala. — A White city leader captured on video using a racial slur toward Black people during a council meeting said he won’t apologize, and might run for mayor. Others are calling for his resignation.
Tarrant City Council member Tommy Bryant told news outlets his use of the word Monday night reflected something the city’s Black mayor, Wayman Newton, had said during an earlier private meeting.
During a public session, Bryant used the slur to refer to a Black female council member, Veronica Freeman. Before the outburst, neighbors asked Bryant about controversial social media posts allegedly made by his wife about race, CBS affiliate WIAT-TV reports.
After being questioned, Bryant stood up and can be heard saying: “The n-word. The n-word. Let’s get to the n-word. Hey. Do we have a house n***** in here? Do we? Hey. Would she please stand up?” Bryant said.
Some in the audience gasped at his use of the slur, which was broadcast on Facebook Live, and Freeman left crying, but Bryant was unapologetic.
“I did what needed to be done. It needed to be brought to light what kind of a person the mayor is,” Bryant told WIAT-TV.
The mayor said the video speaks for itself and, in an interview with al.com, denied using the same slur Bryant uttered during the meeting.
Asked whether he is a racist, Bryant demurred.
“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,” he told WVTM.
The Alabama NAACP called for Bryant’s resignation, saying he had “disgraced himself and has stained the position he holds.”
While city elections are nonpartisan in Alabama, the state Democratic Party issued a statement calling for Bryant’s resignation, and the Alabama GOP noted that Mayor Newton is a Republican and said Bryant’s remark was “completely unacceptable.”
WIAT-TV reached out to Newton, but he declined an interview and said the video of Monday’s meeting “spoke for itself.”
Tarrant, which adjoins Birmingham, has a population of about 6,100 and is about 53% Black, Census statistics show.
Waynette Bonham, who is Black and also identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, told WIAT Bryant should resign.
“I was like this was the person that is supposed to be serving our communities? Like, this is supposed to be our representation, he has his own district in Tarrant? No,” said Bonham.