Who is Tommy Bryant? Alabama councilman calls Black colleague N-word at meeting, sparks outrage
The Alabama Democratic Party has called for the resignation of Tarrant city councilman Tommy Bryant. On Monday, July 19, Bryant was caught asking, "Do we have a house (N-word) in here?" during a meeting. The slur was allegedly referring to Black council member Veronica Freeman. Bryant was slammed by both the Democrats and Republicans but has so far refused to apologize.
Bryant's slur is one of the many times public officials, celebrities and others have been caught using the N-word in public of late. On May 25, Walmart came under immense criticism after its servers were hacked, and someone sent a welcome email with the N-word to customers. Days earlier, a Sacramento State professor and his wife were caught shouting the N-word at neighbors while drunk. However, it's not all been dim news. On June 19, a San Francisco coffee shop owner fired her husband after he used the N-word in a confrontation with a Black man.
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Several politicians have been caught making racial attacks of late, but few have been reprimanded publicly. Bryant could become the first to do so, after the state GOP also slammed him for his choice of words, but stopped short of an official rebuke. The story has now blown up, with several users on social media condemning Bryant as well. If you were wondering who he is, here's everything we know about Bryant.
Who is Tommy Byrant?
Little is known about Bryant, who seems to maintain a low profile. According to his Facebook page, Bryant is from Tarrant but currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama. He is an alumnus of Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, Florida. Tarrant's Facebook page doesn't appear to have any further information about him. We could not find a LinkedIn profile for Bryant, so we cannot confirm where he works, apart from the city council.
Media reports indicate Bryant was re-elected to represent District 5 in the 2020 Jefferson County municipal elections. He is reportedly the city's longest-serving councilman. The elections also saw Tarrant elect its first-ever Black Mayor — Wayman Newton. The use of the N-word is the first and only time Bryant's name appears in the national media but has nonetheless caused a considerable storm. Here's a video of the outburst.
Tarrant, Alabama city council member Tommy Bryant has come under fire after he stood up and loudly asked, “Do we have a house nigger in here?” during a city council meeting https://t.co/5HqTZ3WV4m pic.twitter.com/xo1rjgqSGy— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) July 20, 2021
Video footage from the meeting shows Bryant ask, "Do we have a house N-word in here? Do we? Do we?" The comments were made at a July 19 city council meeting. In his defense, Bryant said he was only repeating what the Mayor called councilwoman Freeman. "I heard a comment from the (unclear) where someone made that comment. And I thought it be proper to go ahead and bring it to light," he said in an interview with WVTM 13. "The Mayor called Veronica Freeman a stupid h-n. He doesn't need to use that term in front of everybody, and I thought the city ought to know what kind of terminology the Mayor uses," he added. Bryant claimed the Mayor "said it in a derogatory manner, I said it so people would know what the mayor said." When approached for comment, Newton did not confirm whether what Tarrant said was true. Freeman could also not be reached for comment on the matter.
Democrats want Bryant out
Despite Bryant's allegations, both the Democratic and Republican parties have publicly condemned him for his words. Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl told Al.com Braynt's behavior "is completely unacceptable in any setting." Wahl added, "The Alabama Republican Party is deeply troubled by the racially charged outburst and disrespect shown by Councilman Tommy Bryant." He did not, however, suggest Bryant should step down, which is what the Dems are pushing for.
"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 party's executive director Wade Perry said. The party further called Bryant a "racist unfit to serve". Calls to resign have also begun to emerge from the Tarrant community. One resident told CBS 42, "I think he should resign because he was way too comfortable standing up and using that word in front of a group of people of color."
Alabama Democrats Call for Resignation of Tarrant City Council Member, John “Tommy” Bryant. pic.twitter.com/mEywQrD4Dr— Alabama Democrats (@aldemocrats) July 20, 2021
However, the calls appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Not only has the state GOP refused to sanction Bryant, but he has also refused to stand down. Speaking to reporters on July 20, Bryant said, "Absolutely not. I may even consider running for mayor next time," when asked about resigning. Bryant has also levied other accusations at Newton, including the fact that he allegedly bullied Freeman. "It's time for those people who are going to get mad about what I said, to get mad not that I said it, but that the Mayor said it," he told WVTM 13.
This is not the first time accusations have been levied against Newton. Since his election, he has been facing significant opposition from a group of mostly White residents in the city, including Tarrant police chief Dennis Reno. In fact, Reno had Newton arrested for assault, an allegation that was later proven to be false.