Woman Claims She Shouted Racial Slur At Students at Live Oak Hotel

Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-11 08:44:14-04

MIDWAY, Fla. (WTXL) -- A Port St. Joe woman claims she shouted a racial slur at students staying at the Econo Lodge in Live Oak. "I was the one who opened the door and screamed 'you n**** need to shut the F***up,'" said Tona Hawthorne.

It's a new twist to story we've been following. Dozens of students were staying at the motel earlier this month after their bus broke down.

Hawthorne and her husband were staying there too.


Watch Full Interview With Woman Who Claim She Shouted Racial Slur at Students in Live Oak


The students say the motel staff antagonized them and called them racial slurs. However, Hawthorne says the motel did its best to accommodate the students and that she did the name-calling.

She says she knows it's rude and wrong, but she goes on to say the students were screaming up and down the halls. She says they were out of control.

She says she and her disabled husband needed rest.

"Quit blaming the motel," said Hawthorne. "Own your own mistakes. I have no problem owning mine. That motel was not racially profiling anyone or segregating anyone. It was other patrons at the hotel who had enough."

Hawthorne says other people even left in the middle of the night, but she stayed.

The students were on a college tour visiting from Michigan. They say they were treated unfairly and didn't deserve the response they received.

"We were peaceful," said Charli Witcher, a student. "Even when we felt like we were getting and when they were calling us n****, they wanted a reaction. They wanted a reaction so they could do some things to us. We were all peaceful and we prayed and kept on believing in God that God would take us out of this situation." 

"Yeah I have to agree with Charli," said Sandrese Green, another student. "Everything was good. Nobody, not one student was rowdy or did anything to retaliate." 

Blake Odom, the coordinator for the group, said in a previous interview, he heard a motel manager called them the N-word as they were leaving. 

The vice president of Choice Hotels, the owner of the Econo Lodge, apologized to the group of students, saying they value the diversity of their guests.

Florida Senator Dwight Bullard has asked attorney general Pam Bondi to investigate.