Confrontation Between Black Female Lawmaker, White Man Goes Viral
MABLETON, GA — An alleged confrontation between a black female metro Atlanta lawmaker and a white man in a Cobb County Publix on Friday continued escalating on Monday, as another chapter in the nation’s never-ending racial dialogue again went viral over America’s airwaves. The brouhaha began when state Rep. Erica Thomas, a black Democrat lawmaker from Austell, recorded a tearful, emotional Facebook Live video where she said a man called her “a lazy son of a [expletive]” and told her to “go back where she came from.”
“Sir, you don’t even know me,” Thomas claims she said. “I’m not lazy. I’m nine months pregnant.” The actual incident in question was not recorded, but Thomas recounted the alleged incident and her reaction in her Facebook Live video.
On Saturday, Thomas was being interviewed by a local TV station outside the Publix when the man, identified as Eric Sparkes, also showed up. Thomas and Sparkes got into another argument in front of the TV crew, with Sparkes denying he said Thomas should “go back where she came from.”
Sparkes did admit cursing at Thomas for having too many items in her cart, and “I called you a lazy (expletive),” Sparkes said to Thomas. “That’s the worst thing I said.” Sparkes told Channel 2 he is a Democrat and of Cuban nationality, and said Thomas is just trying to further her political career.
“This woman is playing the victim for political purposes because she is a state legislator,” Sparkes said. “I’m a Democrat and will vote Democrat for the rest of my life, so call me whatever you want to believe. For her political purposes, make it black, white, brown, whatever. It is untrue.”
On Monday, Thomas backtracked from her original statement that Sparkes told her to go back where she came from. When asked, “So you don’t remember exactly what he said?” by a local journalist, Thomas said, “No, no, definitely not. But I know it was ‘go back’ because I know I told him to ‘go back.'”
Also on Monday, Thomas and some of her supporters held a news conference, during which she said she was “embarrassed, and I was scared for my life” during the alleged incident.
After the press conference, Sparkes released a statement to Channel 2, in which he said “Ms. Thomas has taken an innocuous situation that began on my part to be about being inconsiderate and turned into a national case about race overnight. Ms. Thomas accuses me of telling her to go back to whereever. Those words were never spoken. She backtracked slightly and now is changing her story. I am in the process of exploring with attorneys a defamation lawsuit against her.”
The confrontation comes as President Donald Trump continues his attack on four liberal Democrat congresswomen collectively known as “the squad.” “Tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down,” Trump told a campaign crowd last week in North Carolina, a swing state he won in 2016 and wants to claim again in 2020. “They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say, ‘Hey if you don’t like it, let ’em leave, let ’em leave.'”
Trump’s jabs were aimed at the four freshmen Democrats who have garnered attention since their arrival in January for their outspoken liberal views and distaste for Trump: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All were born in the U.S. except for Omar, who came to the U.S. as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family.
Taking the legislators on one at a time, Trump ticked through a laundry list of what he deemed offensive comments by each woman. Omar came under the harshest criticism as Trump played to voters’ grievances, drawing a chant from the crowd of “Send her back! Send her back!”