A white man has admitted repeating expletives at a pregnant black Georgia lawmaker because she taking too many items into a supermarket express lane but he vehemently denies telling her, “go back where you came from.”
According to reports, Eric Sparkes, the man that allegedly cursed Rep. Erica Thomas of Austell, showed up during a WSB-TV interview, outside the Atlanta-area Publix store where the incident occurred. He denied making any racially charged comment, adding, “I am Cuban.”
In front of reporters Thomas confronted Sparkes, stating that he had “degraded and berated” her. She has told reporters that were present that she notified police and will seek store video.
Thomas said she was in the express line because she is nine months pregnant and cannot stand for long, in a tearful Facebook video posted Friday. The video went viral as the hashtag #IStandwithErica trended on Twitter.
Sparkes told reporters on Saturday during the interview, that he called her a vulgarity but did not say anything racial. However, Thomas stated that Sparkes was just trying to make himself look better in the presence of the reporters.
Sparkes indicated that he is a Democrat and was being unjustly attacked for political purposes. To which Thomas responded, that she never identified herself to Sparkes as a public official. She said she was so taken aback by his actions that she didn’t think to try to record them.
Publix has said the company is “cooperating with local law enforcement as they look into the matter,” in a statement from management.
The incident came days after President Donald Trump tweeted that four congresswomen of color, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, should go back to the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from. Thomas, in her video, alluded to those attacks and accused the president of inciting hate.
During the television interview, she said Sparkes “needs to be held accountable because people can’t just go out and berate pregnant women.”