Mableton, GA – Georgia State Representative Erica Thomas said she wants the man who confronted her for having too many items in a grocery store express lane to be criminally charged (videos below).
Thomas’ account of what transpired at the Mableton Publix store has changed a couple of times since she first cried about it in a Facebook post on Friday.
“I’m about to be very Transparent because this racism and hate is getting out of control!” she captioned the video. “I feared for my life!”
The sobbing lawmaker said that she was at the grocery store on Friday, and that she took 15 items to the 10-item checkout lane.
“Yes, I had 15 items, but I’m nine months pregnant, and I can’t stand up for long,” she said in the video.
Thomas said that a “white man” suddenly approached her, and called her a “lazy son-of-a-b---h.”
“You need to go back where you came from,” the man told her, according to Thomas.
She said that the man told her she was “ignorant,” and that his comments “hurt me so bad.”
Thomas also said that the confrontation upset her nine-year-old daughter, who was with her at the time.
“I can’t even explain to her why he has so much hate in his heart,” she wept. “People need to see the hate that is going on in this country – the hate is real!”
Thomas claimed that the man kept harassing her, and that she was “scared” to leave the store because he could have followed her to her car and pulled out a gun.
She said she also planned to file a complaint with Publix, because they “took too long to step in.”
People are “out of control” with their “white privilege stuff,” she declared. “Why y’all hate people y’all hurt like that?...It’s inciting so much hate!”
On Saturday, the man who confronted Thomas was heading back into the Publix store to speak with the manager about the situation, when he spotted news cameras outside, WXIA reported.
He identified himself as Eric Sparkes, and agreed to provide a statement about his side of the encounter.
Sparkes said he was frustrated when he saw Thomas with approximately 20 items in the 10-item lane, so he went to speak with store associates about the situation.
Two other regular lanes were also open at the time, he added.
They told him it was against store policy for employees to confront Thomas, but noted that it was fine for another customer to say something to her, Sparkes said.
Just as Sparkes was telling reporters about how he decided to confront Thomas about the issue, Thomas suddenly stormed into the interview and began yelling that he shouldn’t “get a spotlight,” WXIA footage showed.
“You are going to jail!” she declared, as she berated Sparkes in front of the cameras.
She then began arguing with Sparkes – who is Cuban – and repeatedly assured him that he is “white.”
“Do you feel bad?” Thomas asked him at one point.
“Do you understand you’re a liar?” he asked her.
Sparkes confirmed that he called Thomas a “lazy b---h,” but adamantly denied having ever told her to go back to where she came from.
Thomas finally stepped to the side, and declared that she was going to allow Sparkes to “have his 15 minutes” of fame, at which point he resumed his interview with reporters.
Sparkes noted that the encounter was captured by surveillance cameras, and that it showed him approaching Thomas and pointing at the sign displaying the item limit for the express lane.
He said that Thomas then came towards him and berated him, and that he took a couple of steps backwards before he told her she was “selfish.” A moment later, he called her a “selfish little b---h,” he confirmed.
“I did say that,” Sparkes reiterated. “That’s all I said, and after that I walked out of Publix.”
The self-proclaimed Democrat adamantly denied having told Thomas to go back to where she came from, and alleged that she was “playing the victim for political purposes.”
“I’m Hispanic,” he railed. “I don’t care what she thinks – she’s doing it for political purposes – period!”
He also denied having ever been evicted from the grocery store.
Thomas again interrupted the interview to declare that Sparkes was in the wrong before she stormed off to her car, the video showed.
In an interview with WSB, Thomas said that Sparkes is guilty of “simple assault,” and claimed that there are witnesses who will support her allegations against him.
But when a reporter started to question her further about Sparkes’ exact words during the exchange, the lawmaker began to falter.
“I mean like, I know what – I don’t know if he said ‘go back,’ you know, those types of words…I don’t wanna say he said ‘go back to your country’ or ‘go back where you came from,’ but he was making those types of references,” she stammered.
A reporter again asked if she remembered Sparkes’ exact words.
“No, no, definitely not,” Thomas responded. “But I know it was ‘go back’ because I know I told him to ‘go back.’”
Thomas said she filed a police report over the altercation, which she labeled as a “hate crime.”
“We have to make an example out of this man…He needs to be arrested,” she declared. “Because I had the courage to do this.”
“I feared for my life,” added Thomas, who is much larger than Sparkes in size.
According to the lawmaker, Publix has also opened an “internal investigation” into the situation in order to determine why none of the employees tried to help her.
During a news conference on Monday, Thomas doubled-down on her allegations against Sparkes, and said she was certain that he had told her to “go back to where you came from,” WSB reported.
“He said it right after he said ‘No, I know you people,’” she told reporters. “You’re ignorant.”
The Georgia Democratic Party has released a statement in support of Thomas.
“We stand with you Erica Thomas,” the statement read, according to WSB. “Trump’s racist rhetoric is emboldening hate across Georgia and our country.”
Meanwhile, critics and some Republican leaders urged Thomas to resign if the ongoing investigation into the matter reveals that she lied about what occurred.
“I think this thing has been grossly over-politicized,” Cobb County GOP Chair Jason Shepherd told the news outlet. “I mean, you can’t turn around at all without someone on the left accusing a Republican of being a racist.”
Sparkes said that he has met with an attorney, and that he is considering filing a defamation lawsuit against Thomas, WSB reported.
You can watch Thomas’ tearful allegations – as well as interviews with her and Sparkes – in the videos below: