Watch: Publix Video Shows Confrontation Escalated Quickly - But Is At Odds With How Erica Thomas Described It

Ga. State Rep. Erica Thomas (D) in a screen grab from a Publix video taken 7/19/19. Via 11 Alive

Ga. State Rep. Erica Thomas (D)

Ga. State Rep. Erica Thomas (D) in a screen grab from a Publix video taken 7/19/19. Via 11 Alive

A video of the confrontation between Georgia resident and Cuban-American Democrat Eric Sparkes and Georgia State Rep. Erica Thomas (D) inside a Publix grocery store was released Wednesday, providing more details in a case that has stoked racial divisions over allegations by Thomas that Sparkes told her to “go back to where she came from.”


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

A Publix surveillance video of the incident released Wednesday showed a confrontation that lasted roughly 45 seconds. It did not include audio, so it provided no conclusive evidence of what was said, but it showed Sparkes walk up to Thomas as she was checking out in the express lane and apparently point to the sign.

He quickly retreated as Thomas responded and took a step in his direction. She then followed him a few more steps as he walked away, pointing a finger at him.

The officer who reviewed the tape 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.”

Watch video of the incident below:

While indeed there is no audio on the videotape, at least one witness told police that it was Thomas who told Sparkes to “go back to where you came from” multiple times. That same witness said they did not hear Sparkes say that to Thomas.

Another Publix employee said he heard Sparkes call Thomas the “b” word but did not hear him say “go back to where you came from.”

I rewatched the Facebook Live Thomas did on Friday an hour before she filed a police report. She said *multiple times* on the video that Sparkes told her to “go back to where you came from.” On Saturday, she backtracked:


In her Facebook video, she also said her daughter was crying during the incident and asking why Sparkes was saying those things. But in the Publix video released Wednesday, not once did you see Thomas, who is 9 months pregnant and was wearing a Planned Parenthood t-shirt, turn to speak to her daughter about what was happening, even after Sparkes had left the store and she went back to finish checking out.

Thomas did, however, pull her daughter into her Facebook live video about halfway through to say she felt “sad” about what happened and that she had wanted to do something about it but couldn’t because she knew she’d “get in trouble.”

In her Facebook video, Thomas indicated she was in fear for her life and didn’t know what to do. She said on Twitter that her husband wasn’t around to defend her because he was in the military and was deployed.

But in the Publix video, it’s very clear that she was not in fear for her life and took control of the situation very quickly after Eric Sparkes approached her (not with his hands “clenched” as she originally asserted) and pointed to the sign about 10 items in the express lane. In fact, she practically chased him out of the store.

In her Facebook video, she complained towards the end about the fact that no one stepped in to help her in spite of the fact that several people including two Publix employees were standing nearby. After watching the Publix video, it’s clear that she didn’t need anyone to intervene, that she aggressively went after Sparkes and kept pointing at the door for him to leave. At one point during the video you can see a store manager ushering Sparkes out. If I was a customer standing nearby, I would not have intervened, either. It looked like she was about to lunge for him.


As I wrote yesterday, Sparkes should never have walked over to her and confronted her about the express lane issue. Things like that you just need to let go. But he did. But just because he wanted to play express lane monitor was no excuse for her to embellish the situation the way she did and give a portrayal of how things happened that is at odds with what the actual video shows.

Also, during the Facebook live video, Thomas compared her situation to the “send [Rep. Ilhan Omar] back” chants that started during a Trump rally in North Carolina last week. Ironically, the man she says was mimicking those chants actually condemned the chants and Trump’s controversial tweets about the Squad on Facebook last week:

After watching the video and reading the police reports, it’s clear why the Cobb County PD decided not to file any charges. It’s also even more understandable now why Eric Sparkes is considering filing a defamation lawsuit against Thomas.

Thomas has a right to shop in peace. She also has a right to defend herself if confronted. She does not, however, have the right to defame another person by saying things that are at odds with how the situation actually played out.


— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –


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