Tarrant, AL city council member Tommy Bryant, has come under fire from residents after an exchange at a city council meeting Monday night in which he stood up and loudly asked, “Do we have a house n***er in here?”
The comment came right after a person in the audience accused Bryant’s wife of also using the n-word on Facebook.
Tensions between Council Member Bryant and Mayor Wayman Newton are not new. A story last month by The Daily Beast goes into extensive detail about the racial issues Tarrant has faced and specifically mentions an occasion where Bryant admits he called Newton a “little boy” to try to instigate Newton into a fight.
According to The Daily Beast article, Newton only acknowledged using “foul language” one time in private with Bryant, after he said the councilman called him “boy.” Newton stated that 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.
In response, Bryant claimed that he called Newton a “little boy” instead and that Newton had been trying to instigate him and that he meant the comment only to “turn the tide” on the situation.
Bryant stated he was simply trying to piss off Newton with the comment.
The article also goes into detail about Newton’s assault charge brought against him by the cities former white police chief, Dennis Reno.
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.
At this point, there are audible gasps in the crowd and just over a minute later Freeman, sitting close to Newton, can be seen sobbing into her hands within view of the camera, only to leave and continue to cry off camera.
The video goes on for another 30 minutes, with discussions on racial tensions in the city and Mayor Newton proposing a town hall meeting on racial issues. When Bryant is asked if he would be interested in participating, Bryant pauses and responds that he would “have to think about that.”
The entire city council meeting can be viewed above, unedited in any way.
Update: The Alabama Democratic Party has called for Bryant’s resignation. Bryant so far has been defiant and states that instead of resigning he plans to run for Mayor.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl issued the following statement:
“The Alabama Republican Party is deeply troubled by the racially charged outburst and disrespect shown by Councilman Tommy Bryant. 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 honorably, even in the face of adversity.”
This article has been updated to identify the woman who Bryant was referring to as a “house n*****” as city council member Veronica Freeman.