MPD investigating reports of racist, violent threats against Commissioner Tami Sawyer

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As crews continue work to remove the remains of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from a Memphis park, Memphis Police are investigating claims of racial threats made after multiple confrontations.

WREG’s cameras captured part of an altercation between a member of Confederate 901 and Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer as the remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest are removed. The Memphis Police Department confirms to WREG the incident was reported and an investigation is underway.

“I thought it was very unacceptable. As stated, and reported, that gentleman was asked to leave the premises and asked not to return to the worksite,” said Commissioner Van Turner.

The man involved in the exchanges was working as a volunteer along with hired contractors that are moving the remains. Health Sciences Park is now technically private property, which means guests acting inappropriately will be asked to leave.

“Threatening a sitting elected official and singing Dixie is not keeping the peace,” Turner said. “What we’re doing, is we’re asking for peace.”

MPD confirms anyone acting menacing at the park could be subject to an investigation and even criminal charges.

“We are assisting in any way that we can,” Turner said. “Eyewitness accounts, anything that the Memphis Police Department needs.”

Sawyer also says she received threats on social media. Sawyer emailed WREG 14 images of threats and harassment she says she’s had to deal with due to her efforts to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue and his remains.

Sawyer explained she’s used to disagreements and even arguments about political topics or social views, but she believes the latest round of exchanges has gone too far, and that’s why she’s involved law enforcement.

“When you come at me with these violent and racist attacks, and you call me names, and you tell me to watch my back and you threaten to do disgusting things to me, that’s when we’re going to take it seriously,” Sawyer said.

WREG has reached out to the man involved in the confrontation with Sawyer, but we have not heard back.

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