After all of the grandstanding done by Georgia state representative Erica Thomas, it appears that we have another Jussie Smollett scenario. As it turns out, Representative Thomas allegedly made up the ‘racist’ statements that she claimed were hurled at her.
A Publix employee told Cobb County officers that she witnessed part of the conversation, but said she did not hear Sparks say anything similar to Thomas’ accusation of “go back where you came from.”
In a tearful video posted on July 19, Thomas accused Sparkes of using that phrase, which echoed a tweet by President Donald Trump that sparked a national uproar. Her account quickly went viral and triggered a wave of both support and backlash. Some of that support was from Democratic presidential candidates such as Robert O’Rourke and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. Both took it as an opportunity to #StandWithErica and to put the blame of the confrontation at the feet of President Donald Trump.
In Thomas’s original Facebook video, she stated, “This white man comes up to me and says, ‘You lazy son of (expletive). You need to go back where you came from.’”Her alleged response was, “Sir, you don’t even know me. I’m not lazy. I’m nine months pregnant.” Thomas also said in posting the video that she “feared for her life.” In a follow-up interview, Thomas said she was embarrassed and scared for her life.
Sparkes owned up to his words.
“I did say that. That’s all I said after that, and I walked out of Publix. Her words stating on Twitter, and her video, stating I told her she needs to go back where she came from are untrue,” said Sparkes.
I’m about to be very Transparent because this racism and hate is getting out of control! I feared for my life!
Posted by Erica Thomas on Friday, July 19, 2019
While Sparkes, a Democrat of Cuban decent, admitted to calling the Democrat an expletive and lazy during the heated conversation over her being in the express lane with more than the maximum (while two other lanes were completely empty), but he refutes her account of what he said.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Thomas’ attorney, Gerald Griggs, said the officer’s report shows the case needs additional investigation because the employee and another witness who also said he didn’t hear Sparkes use the phrase, “didn’t hear the initial argument.” The officer indicated that he had interviewed three other customers who heard the exchange.
The officer who reviewed the video surveillance footage wrote that Sparkes “did not appear to be irate” or to have approached her with “clenched fists,” as Thomas asserted to the officer. He also wrote that Thomas’ 9-year-old daughter was seen “smiling shortly after.”
Cobb County authorities have stated that they don’t intend to file criminal charges. The department said that they had “conducted a thorough investigation into the confrontation.”
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This incident has led to a nationwide conversation as it came on the heels of President Trump’s tweets about four freshmen Congresswomen. While some declared the run-in a heartbreaking side effect of Trump’s rhetoric, others have denounced Thomas as a version of Jussie Smollett.
As we are now seeing, Thomas is backtracking on her initial claims. The day after the episode, Thomas met at the grocery store with a local TV station to have her say. Sparkes also arrived to speak with store management and got his own airtime. During his interview, Thomas confronted him again.
In that Saturday interview, Thomas told the station,
“I don’t want to say he said, ‘Go back to your country,’ or ‘Go back to where you came from.’ But he was making those types of references is what I remember.”
But wait. Thomas’ attorney stated that he spoke with a customer who witnessed the event in its entirety, saying, “Thomas has witnesses who back up her account of what was said.”
Two days after walking her comments back, Thomas held a news conference, saying that “Sparkes used the hateful language that echoed President Trump’s recent tweets.” She also said that her comments made to Channel 2 Action News on Saturday, “where I appear to backtrack were taken out of context.”
Here it is — Erica Thomas is in pink in the Planned Parenthood t-shirt. She follows Sparkes after he comes up to point out that she’s in the express line and she follows him and appears to be the one yelling at him.
Hard to see how her initial account could possibly be right. pic.twitter.com/RAYRVVlEXZ
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) July 24, 2019
In a statement on Tuesday, Sparkes said he wasn’t surprised that Cobb County authorities decided not to file charges, adding that the police report “speaks for itself.” Sparkes also blasted media coverage of the incident.
“Everyone that knows me knows that I am anti-hate, anti-bigot and anti-racism,” he said, adding: “Sadly, too much of media isn’t fact-checking items or they are just taking the word of a politician when they do a live Facebook or a Twitter post.”
In researching information for this article, I came across a Townhall.com piece on Rep. Thomas. While the article was written around the events between Thomas and Sparkes, it found a since-deleted tweet from Thomas from 2018, two days after Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people at Douglas High School in Florida. Cruz’s rampage wounded 17 others. Two survivors have since committed suicide.
In the tweet Thomas writes,
“My heart goes out to Nikolas Cruz!! Some do not know how to cope with being an orphan. I thank God everyday for getting me through the system in one piece. #FloridaShooting #mentalhealth #PrayforDouglas #prayfornik”
The father of Alaina Petty, one of the Parkland victims, tweeted this past Wednesday, highlighting the three lessons he hoped Thomas has learned, saying.
- There are cameras everywhere (a reference to the store surveillance that do not back up Thomas’ claims).
- 10 items or less means 10 items or less (The actual quantity Thomas had in her cart have fluctuated by her own account in different versions of her story).
- The internet is forever (Petty reminds Thomas and everyone else of the tweet she posted after the Parkland massacre).