Sawyer used anti-disability, anti-LGBTQ language in newly discovered tweets

Updated: Sep. 14, 2019 at 4:43 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis mayoral candidate Tami Sawyer is facing more questions over old tweets.

WMC Action News 5 uncovered several tweets in which Sawyer used an anti-disability slur along with language often seen as offensive to the LGBTQ community.

Sawyer referred to others as "retarded" on several occasions, over a period of years.

"I like that @SpikeLee goes back at retarded tweeters," Sawyer tweeted in July 2012.

In response to another Twitter user in March 2013, Sawyer said, "I love that fool but he is retarded."

In a 2010 post referring to what appears to be a pet, Sawyer tweeted the pet was “…at my feet being a retard...yanking s--- out the back of the computer like he doesn’t have 100 toys.”

A few months later, Sawyer tweeted, "My list of people who cannot call me at work is girlfriends are retarded."

The Special Olympics describes the words "retard" and "retarded" as hurtful to those with intellectual disabilities.

WMC Action News 5 also found several tweets in which Sawyer used language often seen as offensive to the LGBTQ community.

During a 2014 Twitter chat, Sawyer shared a story about outing a teacher in prep school.

"We had a teacher that was a closeted lesbian. Decided it was our duty to out her. She quit after a semester. #meangirls #pocprepchat" Sawyer tweeted.

After someone called that person a good teacher, and said their mom was a fan, Sawyer replied, "Nope not us lol. No open homosexuality back then. I know two teachers run out."

In Dec. 2009, Sawyer replied and retweeted another Twitter user who said they didn't know whether to dap up (give a handshake) or hug to "butch lesbians." Sawyer said, "I just wave @ em..from a distance lol."

In referring to pictures in April 2009, Sawyer wrote, “Dont send me the lesbian ones though.”

In July 2009, Sawyer replied to another user saying, "...what movies we got? no homo. lol."

In Feb. 2010, Sawyer tweeted to another user, " @ all homo."

The discovery of these tweets follows other tweets which were discovered earlier in the week.

"I have little admiration respect for the police. Protect & serve... Meh," Sawyer wrote in a tweet from 2010.

"Cops just got a dude on my block with a DUI. Thanking God for all the times I made it home without fail... like tonite," she wrote in another.

"Little white kids in scary movies freak me out. I'm glad I can't have white babies. Cuz I might kill one thinking they're damned," Sawyer posted in another tweet from 2009.

Memphis resident Natreia Wren created an online petition, which she admits is largely symbolic, calling for Sawyer to be removed from the ballot.

"Those were things you actually said, so I mean you got to own up to it," said Wren. "If those are your true feelings own up to it."

With early voting already underway, WMC Political Analyst Mike Nelson says Sawyer now has few options in trying to deal with this campaign crisis.

"These are devastating revelations about someone who is a self-avowed progressive. These are the farthest things from progressive sentiments," said Nelson. "I think she's got a a real hole to climb out of. At a minimum, I would expect a candidate who's in her situation would issue a fulsome apology to explain why she's not that person anymore."

Neither Sawyer nor her campaign has responded to the latest tweets WMC uncovered but did send a statement after tweets were found on Thursday.

The statement said, "Consistent efforts to assassinate my character by digging up decade old social media posts are simply ridiculous and outrageous."

In a post to social media on Friday, Sawyer added, "We can examine my decade old tweets out of context and debate what kind of person I was or wasn't in 2009. Or, we can examine what's happening in Memphis today. I'm running because this is life or death for Memphians. The stakes are too high to get caught in this foolishness."

This isn’t the first time this month Sawyer’s tweets have been under the microscope. She apologized a few weeks ago after animal advocates complained about an old tweet in which she mocked a pet owner whose dog had just been euthanized.

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