Police are searching for a local Tea Party leader in Ohio who is wanted for violating a temporary protection order. Meanwhile, speakers at a Tea Party rally organized by the man, Brian “Sonny” Thomas, have pulled out after he suggested in a tweet that he wanted to shoot Hispanic immigrants — then blaming it on a Bee Gees song.
Thomas is the founder and president of the Springboro Tea Party in southwest Ohio. He faces a misdemeanor charge after recently going to the home of the mother of his son, in violation of a protection order. The woman had previously told police that their son had returned from Thomas’s home with bruises.
Thomas had already been in hot water, after he tweeted during a march in support of immigration reform: “Illegals everywhere today! So many spicks makes me feel like a speck. Grr. Where’s my gun?”
Thomas’s son, and the son’s mother, are Hispanic.
Thomas denied to the Dayton Daily News that he had ever bruised his son. He also said that his anger was focused on illegal immigrants, not legal American citizens like his son.
Thomas has written on his website that the tweet was “facetious.” He also explained it to CNN yesterday by saying that he had been listening to the Bee Gees song “Spicks and Specks.” “I made the reference to the song, not stopping to think of the era that it was produced from and taken out of context could be so offensive to some people,” he said.
The Bee Gees song is not about race. It contains the line: “Where are the girls I left all behind, the spicks and the specks of the girls on my mind?”
In response to the tweet, several local Ohio pols, including former congressman Jim Traficant, announced that they would not participate in a Tea Party rally that Thomas has been planning to mark Tax Day.
The tweet wasn’t the first evidence that Thomas may be unusually preoccupied with race. Among the links to the Springboro Tea Party site is one to a site called white-pride.org, which sells t-shirts expressing pride in various European ancestries. CNN found a picture on Thomas’s MySpace page — no longer available — of him wearing a “white pride” t-shirt. The “White Pride” slogan is frequently used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
As police searched for him yesterday, Thomas tweeted: “Did You Know There are Over 300 Fema Concentration Camps in The United States”. He linked to an extremist website telling readers to “resist the new world order.” He also tweeted: “Professionals advise ‘Arm yourself’ When Seconds Count - Cops are minutes away.”
The controversy over Thomas comes at a time when the Tea Party movement is seeking to present a more mainstream and less controversial image to the public. A group of Tea Partiers recently announced a new federation, designed in part to fight back against charges of racism and extremism.