A white woman has been fired from her job after shouting “white lives matter,” “white lives are better” and homophobic slurs during a Black Lives Matter rally in Elizabethton, Tennessee. A video of the woman — identified as Sonya Holt — yelling at protesters quickly went viral on social media.
According to the Johnson City Press, Holt was attending a counter-protest on the 4th of July, where the Black Lives Matter group New Panthers Initiative and counter-protesters were divided by a small fence.
The viral clip was shared by 16-year-old activist and founding board member of the New Generation Freedom Fighters, Sierra Gilmer. In the video, Holt appears to call Gilmer a “poor little Black girl who’s got a messed up mind.”
Holt also calls an unidentified man behind the camera a “gay, homosexual, piece of crap that’s going to burn in hell” and uses a homophobic slur. A white man standing next to her can also be heard using the N-word when referring to the Black Lives Matter protesters.
After the video reached thousands of viewers, Holt was reportedly fired from her job at the Keith Family Vision Clinic in Johnson City. According to Johnson City Press, a spokesperson from the company said Holt no longer worked there as of Monday morning (July 6).
Rumors circulated that Holt also worked for the local Carter County School System. However, on Sunday (July 5), a statement from the district confirmed that she was not an employee.
“It has come to our attention that a video has been widely circulated of a woman at the protest in Elizabethton on July 4th with people saying she is an employee of Carter County Schools,” the statement read. “Please be informed that this person is not employed by the school district.”
“The biggest thing to take away from this is just to realize that racism is in your community however much you think it might not be,” Gilmer said of the incident, per Cincinnati news station WKRC. “There are a lot of people that reached out to me saying that they didn’t realize that this was happening in Elizabethton and they didn’t realize there were people there like that.”
See the clip below.