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Lawmaker at center of viral grocery store dispute suggested Parkland shooter was victim of ‘the system’

The Democrat Georgia state lawmaker who just lately claimed in a tearful viral video {that a} white man informed her to “go back where you came from” in a grocery retailer checkout lane — then walked again her story, earlier than doubling again down on it — sounded a observe of sympathy for highschool mass shooter Nikolas Cruz final 12 months on social media.

“My coronary heart goes out to Nikolas Cruz!! Some do not know the way to deal with being an orphan. I thank God on a regular basis for getting me via the system in a single piece. #FloridaShooting #mentalhealth #PrayforDouglas #prayfornik,” State Rep. Erica Thomas wrote on Feb. 16, 2018.

A number of journalists and commentators flagged and condemned the submit late Monday, together with Harry Cherry, who referred to as for Thomas’ resignation, and Ryan Petty.

Cruz, a former pupil at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty who’d been expelled for disciplinary causes, shot and killed 17 folks there on Feb. 14, 2018. Greater than a dozen others had been wounded.

On Monday, Thomas reiterated her viral declare {that a} white man informed her to “go back where you came from” throughout a testy argument in a grocery store checkout lane, after strolling again the declare over the weekend. The person has denied the encounter unfolded the way in which she described.

The episode, scorching on the heels of a nationwide controversy over President Trump’s remarks directed at 4 progressive Democrats, shortly made the rounds on social media.

A number of information organizations on Sunday portrayed the episode as a believable occasion of racism utilizing the lawmaker’s unique declare, although she already had tried to make clear her accusations.

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Thomas herself acknowledged in an interview with native media on Saturday that she didn’t recall precisely what the person, Eric Sparkes, had mentioned to her.

SMOLLET HOAX SHEDS LIGHT ON SIMILAR HATE-CRIME HOAX ACCUSATIONS — HOW BIG IS THE PHENOMENON OF MAKING UP RACISM FOR ATTENTION? 

“He said, ‘go back,’ you know, those types of words,” Thomas mentioned on Saturday. “I don’t wanna 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.”

“So, you don’t remember exactly what he said?” a reporter pressed.

Thomas answered: “No, no, definitely not. But I know it was ‘go back,’ because I know I told him to ‘go back.'”

That admission contradicted the tearful video Thomas posted to Fb this previous Friday, during which she mentioned she was together with her younger daughter out there and had greater than 10 gadgets in the grocery store’s categorical lane.

“I decided to go live because I’m very upset, because people are getting really out of control with this, with this white-privilege stuff,” she mentioned. “I’m at the grocery and I’m in … the aisle that says ’10 Items or Less.’ Yes, I have 15 items, but I’m nine months pregnant and I can’t stand up for long, and this white man comes up to me and says, ‘You lazy son of a b—h… You need to go back where you came from.'”

Thomas went on to accuse Trump of inciting hate. In the course of the tv interview Saturday, she mentioned Sparkes “needs to be held accountable because people can’t just go out and berate pregnant women.”

Nevertheless, in a press convention together with her lawyer on Monday, Thomas doubled down on her unique allegation.

“He said, ‘Go back where you came from!'” Thomas insisted, saying the person “kept harassing me.”

“I was embarrassed, and I was scared for my life,” she mentioned.

Sparkes has forcefully denied making the racially charged remark, and in a dramatic second, confirmed up in the course of a tv information interview that includes Thomas outdoors the Atlanta-area Publix retailer the place the preliminary confrontation had unfolded.

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“Did I say that? Is it on video?” Sparkes requested Thomas in entrance of reporters. He acknowledged calling Thomas “a lazy b—h” as a result of she had taken too many gadgets to the categorical checkout lane, however he denied the incident had something to do with race.

Sparkes later informed WSB-TV that regardless of Thomas’ declare he is white, he’s of Cuban descent — and, like Thomas, is a Democrat. Sparkes mentioned Thomas’ accusations had been politically motivated.

Fox Information’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.

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