A man accused of telling a black Georgia lawmaker to “go back” to where to she came from in a Publix grocery store is speaking out with a different version of events.
In a Facebook Live video on Friday, state Rep. Erica Thomas recounted the alleged incident.
“This white man comes up to me and says, ‘You lazy son of a bitch. … You need to go back where you came from,'” she said. “I said, ‘Sir, you don’t even know me. I’m not lazy. I’m nine months pregnant.”
The man in question Eric Sparkes, however, later told local outlet WSB-TV his side of the story following an explosive confrontation between him and Thomas. While he admitted that he did call her a “bitch,” Sparkes denied telling her to “go back.”
“That’s all I said after that, and I walked out of Publix,” he said, adding that he is of Cuban descent. “Her words stating on [Facebook] in her video, stating I told her she needs to go back where she came from are untrue.”
He also accused Thomas of making up the story for “political purposes.”
“Like I said earlier, I’m a Democrat,” he said. “I will vote Democrat the rest of my life, okay? So to call me what she wants to believe for her political purposes that make it black, white, brown or whatever, that is so untrue.”
Thomas, however, is sticking by her version of events and wants to see Sparkes “held accountable.” Meanwhile, police are investigating the incident, and there is surveillance footage, according to WSB-TV Atlanta.
“At Publix we are committed to creating a safe and welcoming shopping experience for all our customers. We are cooperating with local law enforcement as they look into the matter,” Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid told the Washington Examiner.
The incident follows a week of controversy after President Trump told a group of minority congresswomen to “go back” to their countries of origin if they’re unhappy with the United States, despite only one of them having been born outside of the U.S. The president’s supporters later chanted “send her back” in regard to Rep. Ilhan Omar during his North Carolina rally.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.