ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – A woman caught on camera making racist remarks at a Black Lives Matter protest over the weekend in Elizabethton spoke with News Channel 11 for the very first time on Tuesday.
Sonya Holt was captured on cell phone video confronting Black Lives Matter protesters at the Covered Bridge Park.
In the video you can hear Holt say, “White lives matter, white lives are better.”
A man standing next to her said at one point during the recording, “We should have kept you *expletive* slaves, that’s what we should’ve done.”
News Channel 11 has not yet been able to confirm that man’s identity.
In a more than 20-minute phone interview with News Channel 11’s Kaylyn Kluck, Sonya Holt expressed regret for her now viral comments. Holt agreed to speak with us over the phone, but did not want to do an on-camera interview.
She said her original intent for going to the protest was to show support for police officers. Holt said she had never been to a protest before.
“I would like to apologize to the little girl. I did not know that she was a minor. If I had known she was a minor, I would have never spoken to her…That comment about me saying ‘silly little black girl’ – I would have said that if it was a white girl. I would have said ‘silly little white girl.’ So I do apologize for saying that. I did not mean to demean anybody. Of course I apologize to her family. I did not know she was a minor. I am very, very, sorry for that,” Holt said.
The “little girl” Sonya Holt is referring to in the above quote is Sierra Gilmer, 16, and a New Generation Freedom Fighters board member.
Gilmer was the one that captured the cell phone video of Holt on Saturday.
In our interview on Tuesday evening, Holt confirmed that she did in fact lose her job because of the comments she made at the protest.
“I no longer have a job. I don’t have any animosity towards the doctors I worked for. They’re great people. Of course, I didn’t want their business to suffer because of mistakes that I made and I have great respect for them. They did what they had to do to protect their business,” Holt said.
Holt also addressed a verbal confrontation she had with a man named Seth Loven.
Loven was also at Saturday’s protest and captured a different video featuring Holt making comments about his sexuality.
Sonya addressed those comments by saying in part, “As far as the gentleman that I said some bad remarks about his sexuality, prior to that, you’re not seeing that on video. I was just standing there, along with everybody else. And he called me ‘Ku Klux Karen’ because of my haircut. And he said that I was a member of the KKK. And he repeated this several times. And then when I lashed out at him and called him what I did, which I shouldn’t have said because his sexuality is none of my business. I was just angry and I lashed out,” Holt said.
We reached out to Seth Loven on Tuesday night and he denied these accusations.
Loven said in a message to News Channel 11, “NO never not one time I was always very respectful to her besides calling her Karen with the flip phone or Karen…never ever said that to her…I believe my video started when I first started speaking to her.”
There is no video recording on social media of Loven making those comments mentioned above.
Holt also addressed the comments she made such as “White lives matter, white lives are better.”
“I’m not racist at all. I have Black friends. I have Black relatives in my family. The reason that I was angry is because I was being accused of being in the Ku Klux Klan. Which I would never in my life be a part of. I think that’s horrible,” Holt said. “As far as me saying ‘white lives matter, white lives are better,’ I was repeating what not all of them, but some of the Black Lives Matter group were saying, ‘Black Lives Matter, Black lives are better. I was just repeating what they were saying. I just changed it from black to white, because I wanted them to see how hurtful that sounded…”After you’ve been ridiculed and called names over and over and over, you do tend to lash out, and I do apologize for that. That’s no excuse. I’m a grown woman. I know better. I take full responsibility for that.”
As for the man shown on video making racial remarks, Holt said she didn’t know who he was.
“He just happened to be standing beside me. I believe he’s actually the one that said something about slavery,” said Holt.
Holt said she wished she’d never gone to the protest.
“I’m ashamed of the way I came across. But I want to get this point out there. There is not one person in this world who has not said something when they have been angry that they did not mean. And they wished they could take it back. But you cannot un-ring a bell.”
Look for complete coverage tonight on News Channel 11 at 11 o’clock.