ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — A woman caught on camera making racist remarks at a Black Lives Matter protest over the weekend in Tennessee apologized Tuesday.
“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,” said Sonya Holt, who was captured on cell phone video confronting protesters.
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.”
Holt said she didn’t know who he was, and his identity was unable to be confirmed.
Holt expressed regret for her now-viral comments, saying her original intent for going to the protest was to show support for police officers. She said she had never been to a protest before.
“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,” Holt said. “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.”
The “little girl” Sonya Holt was referring to is Sierra Gilmer, 16, who captured the video Saturday.
On Tuesday evening, Holt said she lost 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,” Holt said. “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 also commented on a verbal confrontation she had with a man named Seth Loven, who was also at Saturday’s protest and captured a different video featuring Holt making comments about his sexuality.
“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,” Holt said. “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.”
Loven denied the accusations, saying in a message, “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.”
Holt could also be heard on the recording saying, “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 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. “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.”
Holt said she wishes 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,” she said. “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.”