Shelby County commissioner files complaint, gets security after string of threats

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer filed charges Thursday against a man seen threatening her at the site where Nathan Bedford Forrest’s statue once stood.

“I just finished filing a police interview. I filed a report on Tuesday after the incident at the park where I was both physically threatened and harassed,” said Sawyer.

Sawyer filed the complaints against the man who tried to intimidate her while she was holding a news conference in front of the spot where Forrest and his wife were buried and where the statue of Forrest once stood.

The construction volunteer, George Johnson, sang “Dixie” as Sawyer tried to talk with the media and repeatedly called her names and made threats.

“We don’t want to hear what she has to say because she’s nothing but a communist,” he said.

At one point, it appeared Johnson physically threatened Sawyer. She responded, “Come whoop my a- - so you can go to jail the rest of your life. So you all heard him threaten me as well, right.”

Sawyer identified Johnson in a photo line-up Thursday. She plans to get an order of protection against him. Police say Johnson has not yet been charged. Sawyer says she has gotten numerous threats and nasty comments on social media since the incident.

In one Facebook message, someone wrote, “Hope you get yours.” Another one says, “Watch your back.”

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

Sawyer says she is keeping a record of it all for police to investigate. Sawyer headed a grassroots movement called Take Em Down 901 that pushed for the removal of the statue at what was Forrest Park, now called Health Sciences Park. The statue is gone.

Relocation of the graves of Forrest and his wife began this week. Sawyer says the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is providing security for her.

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