Published 4:17 PM EDT Jul 20, 2019
WASHINGTON – An African-American Georgia state lawmaker says she “feared for her life” after a white man “verbally assaulted” her and told her to “go back to where you came from” because she had too many items in the express checkout line at a grocery store.
Tearing up in an emotional Facebook live video, state Rep. Erica Thomas, who has represented parts of Cobb County, Georgia, since 2015, explained the incident.
“I am nine months pregnant, and I can’t stand up for long, and this white man comes up to me and says…’you need to go back where you came from!'” she said.
Thomas explained that, because she was pregnant, she needed a faster checkout line. According to Thomas, a store employee later came by and asked the man to leave the store. Neither the man nor the employee for Publix, the grocery store chain, are named in the video.
In a tweet, Thomas explained her husband was an active duty military service member and exclaimed, “I came from USA!”
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Democratic presidential candidates spoke up for Thomas as #IStandWithErica started trending on Twitter. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, wrote, “Erica, thank you for serving your state and thanks to your husband for serving our country.”
The incident occurred days after a crowd at President Donald Trump’s July 17 rally in North Carolina started chanting “send her back,” after Trump criticized Somali-born congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “let’s be clear: this is on @realDonaldTrump and every single person who refuses to condemn his vile racism.”
The chants at Trump’s rally sparked much controversy and condemnation from both sides of the aisle. On Thursday, Trump disavowed the chants, but on Friday, he described his supporters at the rally as “incredible people” and “incredible patriots.”
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Trump said this week that he tried to stop the chant but video of the rally shows he stepped back from the lectern and allowed the crowd to continue the refrain nearly a dozen times.
Contributing: David Jackson