Security changes made to Health Sciences Park after disturbing confrontation involving Shelby County Commissioner

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:54 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis Police Department say they are investigating an incident involving Commissioner Tami Sawyer and a volunteer who was relocating the remains of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife.

The scene at Health Sciences Park looks a lot different Wednesday.

New fences have been put up, with a cover over them, to keep people far away from the work that will continue for several weeks.

This added security is in response to the confrontation that happened Tuesday.

Work continued Wednesday at Health Sciences Park toward relocating the remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife.

Tuesday afternoon, a man identifying himself as George “K-Rack” Johnson yelled profanity at Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer and sang Dixie behind her as she did an interview on the role she played in 2017 having the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue removed.

“Yesterday was pretty jarring,” Tami Sawyer said.

Wednesday, Sawyer was back at work at Shelby County Commission. She filed a police report with Memphis Police regarding the incident.

A police spokesman told WMC Action News 5 officers are investigating Johnson for a possible intimidation charge.

“This is not the first time, this is the closest that he’s gotten to me physically,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer says Johnson is a member of the group Confederate 901 and she has received countless threats from members of that group online.

She says she’s asked Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies for protection and hired private security companies for her safety in recent years.

“He’s made videos about me threatening me, calling me names. His group Confederate 901 has pictures and memes of me,” Sawyer said. “I’ve gotten inbox messages from them telling me, you know, they hope they find me floating in the Mississippi River.”

Tuesday, Sawyer came to the park to talk about the work she did in 2017 with Take Em Down 901, but she never got that opportunity.

Wednesday, she did.

“For me, it is a grand moment for my ancestors as the descendant of enslaved Black people who were enslaved in this state, in this county,” Sawyer said.

Both Memphis Greenspace who owns the park and the Sons of Confederate Veterans say Johnson, who was volunteering, will NOT be invited back.

Both sides and Sawyer say they want this work done peacefully.

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