Tami Sawyer is currently running to be Memphis, Tennessee’s first Black woman mayor. After a campaign already loaded with controversy, the candidate has now been the victim of racist attacks.
According to Commercial Appeal, images made their way to social media showing a campaign sign of Sawyer vandalized with racist and sexist comments. The sign was one of several other campaign signs at Berclair Chuch of Christ on 4536 Summe Avenue. The location is a polling place for early voting, which started Friday and will continue up until September 28.
The vandalized campaign sign shows a smiling image of Sawyer with her “We can’t wait” slogan. However, the picture is defaced with a mustache and blackened front teeth covering Sawyer’s face. Then, written across her forehead were the words “ni**** bi***.”
The incident comes after a weekend in which Sawyer apologized for past homophobic and ableist tweets that she posted to her personal account over the course of ten years.
“The tweets you see from that time are buried. Some of them, I’m not going to apologize for: they were jokes that didn’t land, or things that, right now, are being taken wildly out of context,” Sawyer explained in a blog post.
“There are other tweets there, though, that I definitely will apologize for. There are tweets that show a woman who, at that point, still hadn’t come to terms with her homophobia, who still wasn’t standing up and being a voice for all, regardless of ability.”
According to WMC 5, a list of her tweets included:
– “I like that @SpikeLee goes back at retarded tweeters,” Sawyer wrote on July 2012.
– “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 in 2014. When someone argued that the person was a good teacher and their mom supported them, Sawyer replied, “Nope not us lol. No open homosexuality back then. I know two teachers run out.”
– In July 2009, Sawyer also replied to another user witing “…what movies we got? no homo. lol.”
– Sawyer made controversial statements about the police writing in 2010, “I have little admiration respect for the police. Protect & serve… Meh.”
– In 2009, she also wrote, “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.”
Understandably, Sawyer isn’t the easiest candidate to defend, but of course, her past still doesn’t excuse the racist vandalism. Earlier this month, the Memphis Magazine cover was even criticized fo racist caricatures of Sawyer, depicting her with an exaggeated nose and lips.
Her political fate will be determined during Memphis’ mayoral election, which will be held on Thursday, Oct. 3.