The latest “hate crime” supposedly inspired by President Trump’s allegedly “racist” rhetoric appears to be nothing more than an example of two anti-Trump Democrats behaving badly in public.
Erica Thomas, a Georgia Democrat claimed on Friday that a “white man” in a supermarket check-out line called her a “lazy son-of-a-b*tch” and told her to “go back where you came from.”
Thomas, who is nine months pregnant, tearfully made the claim outside of an Atlanta-area Publix store after the man cursed at her for taking too many items into a supermarket express lane.
“And this white man comes up to me and says: ‘You lazy son of a b*tch,”’ Thomas said, sobbing as she described the confrontation in a video. “He says: ‘You lazy son of a bitch; you need to go back where you came from.”’
Today I was verbally assaulted in the grocery store by a white man who told me I was a lazy SOB and to go back to where I came from bc I had to many items in the express lane. My husband wasn’t there to defend me because he is on Active Duty serving the country I came from USA!
— Erica Thomas (@itsericathomas) July 20, 2019
@itsericathomas is on my show during session letting our listeners know about issues that effect us she is a wonderful spirit and this is a very disturbing video to watch . I will support her anyway necessary https://t.co/5qhit4m4n9
— Ryan Cameron (@ryancameron) July 20, 2019
As Thomas’s video went viral and the hashtag #IStandwithErica trended on Twitter, Democrat pols like Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Beto O’Rourk jumped in the fray to politically exploit the incident.
Thomas later walked back her comments, saying, “I don’t want to say he said go back to you’re country or go back to where you came from, but he was making those kinds of references.”
Now Erica Thomas is changing her story after it trended all day and resulted in extensive news coverage
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 21, 2019
As the racial narrative fell apart, the Guardian weighed in with a report incorrectly characterizing Thomas as a Republican:
— Debra Heine (@NiceDeb) July 21, 2019
The “white man” in question is Cuban-American Eric Sparkes, a fellow Democrat who admitted that that he cursed at Thomas for taking too many items into the express line, but denied telling her to “go back where you came from.”
Sparkes showed up during a press conference with Thomas on Saturday outside the store where the incident allegedly occurred. He explained that “this woman” was in the express lane at Publix with about 20 items when two other lanes were completely open. He said he used one of those lanes to pay for his three items and went to talk to a customer service associate about Thomas’ improper behavior because it “frustrated” him. Sparkes said a Publix employee told him that employees are not supposed to confront customers who abuse the express lane, but fellow customers are allowed to. So he decided to go talk to her.
“I thought about it for a second — I almost walked out,” Sparkes told the assembled media, noting that he had no idea at the time that Thomas was a state legislator.
Before he could say anything else, Thomas aggressively confronted him, effectively shutting him down.
“You degraded me and you berated me and everybody needs to see your face on camera!” the lawmaker chided. “Everyone needs to know what you did to me as a woman that is nine months pregnant and you think you’re going to get away with this?!” the lawmaker added. “You are going to jail!”
While Thomas was ranting, Sparkes said, “good luck, ma’am.” He also objected to her characterization of him as “a white man.”
“I’m not white,” he said.
Thomas continued ranting. “I am facing the man that degraded me and berated me and I’m not crying. No I’m not!” she exclaimed. Pointing her finger at Sparkes, she added, “if you knew how you made me feel yesterday, if you knew how you made my daughter feel!”
But Sparkes was having none of it. “Back off before I call the police,” he said.
“Call the police right now because they are looking for you!” Thomas fired back.
“I already talked to them,” Sparkes informed her calmly.
Thomas, a local politician who had been tweeting and granting interviews about the confrontation for the past day, then accused Sparkes of only trying to get his “five minutes of fame.”
“I’m happy that everybody needs to see this man that did this to me — and he thinks that he gets a ‘five minutes of fame?'” she exclaimed. “You think you’re going to come up here and get a spotlight? No you’re not. The only spotlight that you’re going to get is everybody needs to see the man that did this to a woman that is nine months pregnant!”
After she said she had concluded the interview, she asked Sparkes if he felt bad.
“Do you understand you’re a liar,” Sparkes shot back.
“I’m a liar about what? she demanded.
“Everything that happened,” Sparkes replied. “Me telling you to go back where you came from.”
Thomas quickly changed the subject, asking again, “do you feel bad? Do you feel bad about yourself?”
“Did I say that? Is it on video?” Sparkes asked, challenging her.
“What?!” Thomas exclaimed.
“I called you a lazy b-i-t-c-h,” Sparkes replied, spelling out the curse word. “That’s the worst thing I said.” He later said that he had called her a “selfish b*tch” in direct conflict with this admission — unless he had called her both a selfish and lazy b*tch.
Sparks said, “I know what I said, the video knows what I said.” He also told her that he wasn’t kicked out of the store, as she has alleged. “Am I banned from Publix?” he asked her.
“I’m going to let you have your five minutes of fame,” she replied.
“You got yours!” Sparks shot back.
“Thank-you, congratulations,” Thomas blustered, before asking Sparkes to give his name again.
“I’d like to shake your hand,” she said, extending her hand.
Sparkes reacted by backing away from her and saying “no you’re not” and “go away.”
Thomas backed away and encouraged Sparkes to “get his five minutes of fame” but refused to stop talking herself. “Go ahead and get your five minutes of fame, Eric,” she said. “I’m facing you right now and I’m calm and I’m fine and I’m okay because guess what? God is with me. I’m a blessed mama!” she declared.
Sparkes at this point volunteered to take questions from reporters about the confrontation. “I want to straighten this out,” he said.
“Go ahead, ask him questions!” Thomas butt in.
He was asked to describe what happened during the now famous confrontation.
Sparkes told reporters that his “exact first words” were “ma’am, not to be rude”and that he said them while pointing to the sign that said “ten items or less.” He noted that he has seen the surveillance footage and it shows him pointing to the sign.
“She berates me after that,” Sparkes said, as Thomas is heard loudly scoffing in the background. “I don’t remember exactly what she said but on camera she approached me, came towards me as I took a couple steps back,” he explained. “She said a few words. I do not recall exactly what those words were — she did say she was nine months pregnant, I said it didn’t matter in this case.”
Sparkes said that he told her she didn’t need to be in the express lane because there were two open registers and after she said a few more things — which he didn’t specify — he said he called her “a selfish little b-i-t-c-h.” Later on, he told reporters that she said, “I don’t give a crap” when he had confronted her about the express lane rules.
“Her words stating on Twitter and on video that I told her ‘she needs to go back where she came from’ are untrue,” Sparkes stated emphatically.
“I am Cuban. I am not white!” he exclaimed, immediately clarifying, “I am white but I’m Cuban.”
Sparkes said he “was raised with a Cuban grandmother who didn’t speak any English,” and that he wasn’t “playing the victim.”
“This woman is playing the victim for political purposes because she is a state legislator,” Sparkes said. “I’m a Democrat and vote party-line.”
He told the reporters to check his Facebook. “All my statements are anti-Trump, anti-Republican, anti-racism and ant-bigotry,” he stated to prove that he is a good Democrat, (not like the racist Republicans). “This lady does not know me. She’s doing this to get on camera for her political purposes.”
He said he’d only found out about the accusations about an hour before the press conference from a friend who had seen the viral story on Twitter.
“I was aghast,” Sparkes said. “That is not me — my friends will stand by me,” he added.
When asked if he regretted calling Thomas a “selfish b*ich,” Sparkes replied, “I might regret calling her that” but pointed out that she said “I don’t give a crap” when he had confronted her.
He suggested that Thomas’ behavior indicates that she doesn’t have to follow rules everyone else has to follow.
“We need humans that represent us — that will stand up for the little person and not be selfish and not park –”
“I’m nine months pregnant!” Thomas interrupted.
“Does that mean you get in the express lane?” Sparkes demanded.
“I had eleven items!” Thomas claimed.
“You had more than that, ma’am,” Sparkes replied.
“I have my receipt!” Thomas cried.
“Show it!” Sparkes shot back. “You had at least twenty!”
Sparkes later explained that the reason he confronted Thomas about using the express lane even though there were other lanes available, was because he’s “sick of rudeness.”
“I’m tired of selfishness and rudeness,” he said. “It’s no different from somebody parking in front of Publix — go run into Publix, purchase whatever they need and run back to their car.”
Sparkes said it was important to stand up to such rude people.
“If we all don’t stand up to people that are rude, it just keeps continuing and continuing and continuing through our society,” he said.
Sparkes added that his only motivation for confronting Thomas was that “it has to stop.”
When asked if he had something about calling Thomas’ people lazy, he denied it.
“No, no! It was only about her personally,” Sparkes exclaimed.
“I 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,” he said, adding that he would probably vote for her if she was in his district.
“Ms Thomas unfortunately doesn’t want to take any responsibility for her aggressive behavior in front of her own daughter by taking confrontational steps towards me inside Publix after only wanting to point out she she was in the express with too many items,” Sparkes wrote on Facebook Sunday afternoon. “I’ve taken responsibility for using a foul word. The foul word would have never occurred if Ms Thomas had not initiated aggression. Just as Ms Thomas showed her aggression during my interview with the local news.”