Calls growing for Tarrant City Councilman’s resignation after using racial slur in meeting

Local News

TARRANT, Ala. (WIAT) — There are growing calls for a Tarrant City Councilman to resign after he used a racial slur during a public meeting this week.

John ‘Tommy’ Bryant can be heard and seen on a recording using the derogatory language Monday night.

“We were astonished. No one left, because we were actually very very in shock as to what he had said,” Tarrant resident Waynette Bonham said.

Bonham, who is Black and also identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, is now among those calling on Bryant to 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.

Before the outburst, neighbors asked Bryant about controversial social media posts allegedly made by his wife about race. 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.

Another person on the city council, who can not be seen on the camera, also chimes in.

“That’s what Mrs. Freeman was called,” the woman said.

Bryant then claimed that he was repeating language used by the Tarrant mayor during a past executive session.

“That’s what the mayor called her. What do y’all think about that? Huh? Y’all like that?” Bryant said.

Neighbors like Bonham said that even if Bryant was repeating the word, he should not have used it.

“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,” said Bonham.

During an interview with reporters Tuesday, Bryant said he will not resign.

“Absolutely not. I may even consider running for mayor next time,” Bryant said.

Bryant continued to defend his word choice.

“It is ok for me to repeat it because as I said before, I wanted everybody to know what the mayor had said. He said it in a derogatory manner, I said it so that people would know what the mayor said,” Bryant said.

CBS 42 reached out to Tarrant Mayor Waymon Newton, but he declined an interview and said the video of Monday’s meeting “spoke for itself.”

Tarrant City Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Tracie Threadford were calling on Bryant to resign Tuesday.

“Tommy Bryant is a distraction to all the change to our city and he needs to resign,” Threadford said.

CBS 42 reached out to other councilors, Kathy Anderson and Deborah Matthews, but did not receive a response.

An attorney for City Councilwoman Veronica Freeman released the following statement:

“The statements constitute unconscionable racial discrimination and harassment. Such statements are also deeply hurtful and absolutely unacceptable in our society.”

Bryan P. Winter, attorney for Councilwoman Freeman

Leaders of both the Alabama Republican and Democratic Party Headquarters condemned Bryant’s language Tuesday.

“Last night, Tarrant City Council Member John “Tommy” Bryant stood up and used the n-word at a City Council Meeting. He is a racist and unfit to serve. He now joins fellow racists and Republicans Rep. Will Dismukes, Blount County Commissioner Dean Calvert as embarrassments to Alabama and the Republican party. All Alabamians should be calling on Republican political leaders like Governor Kay Ivey and US Senate Candidate Katie Britt to demand the immediate resignation of these overt racists. 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. These racists belong in the history books with Bull Connor and George Wallace, not on the taxpayer’s payroll.”

Alabama Democrats Executive Director Wade F. Perry.

Below is a statement from the ALGOP:

“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 we stand behind him 100%.”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl

Benard Simelton, the President of the NAACP Alabama State Conference, called to see Tarrant City Councilman John ‘Tommy’ Bryant resign on Wednesday, after his use of a racial slur during a public meeting this week.

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