Georgia Democratic State Rep. Erica Thomas claimed in a tweet on Friday that a white man told her to “go back to where” she “came from” at a grocery store, a claim that went viral but is now being disputed.
The incident reportedly happened on Friday at an Atlanta-area Publix store, when a man named Eric Sparkes allegedly confronted Thomas for having too many items while in the express checkout lane.
Thomas tweeted: “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!”
Thomas’ claim trended at the top of Twitter for most of the day on Saturday and garnered extensive coverage across the media. Thomas also posted about the incident in an emotional video on her Facebook account.
“This white man comes up to me and says, ‘You lazy son of b**ch. You need to go back where you came from,'” Thomas alleged. “Sir, you don’t even know me. I’m not lazy. I’m nine months pregnant.”
WSB-TV went to the Publix store on Saturday to interview Thomas and Sparkes showed up, leading to another confrontation between Thomas and Sparkes.
Sparkes completely denied telling Thomas to “go back … where you came from.”
“I called you a lazy (expletive),” Sparkes told Thomas. “That’s the worst thing I said.”
Sparkes told the TV station that he is Cuban, a life-long Democrat, and that he believes Thomas is making her claims “for political purposes.”
“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.”
Thomas later slightly changed her statement, saying: “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.”
The Daily Wire reviewed a Facebook account that appears to belong to Sparkes, and the content on the account perhaps casts even more doubt on the accuracy of Thomas’ claims.
In multiple Facebook posts in the days prior to the incident, Sparkes made it clear that he is not a fan of President Donald Trump and he came to the defense of far-left Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) over Trump’s attacks on them last week.