Memphis candidate for Mayor Tami Sawyer

More and more, members of the public eye are being held accountable for social media posts from over a decade ago. Case in point, Tami Sawyer, African American candidate to be the first female mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, came under scrutiny after a tweet re-surfaces of her being insensitive to a grieving pet owner.

This topic is an especially sensitive one because the Memphis animal shelter had been investigated just a few months prior to Sawyer’s 2009 tweet — culminating in widespread animal cruelty, including cases where some animals left to starve to death. Local animal advocates and the Memphis Animal Services director Alexis Pugh, an appointee of incumbent mayor Jim Strickland, have largely succeeded in their efforts to save more than 93 percent of the animals that have been rescued.

After a tumultuous backlashing from animal activists, Sawyer admittedly had to release an immediate apology again via her social media accounts.

Her apology on facebook read like this “This summer, I adopted NeYo, a stray cat in my neighborhood. I’ve had him for several weeks now and I love him fiercely.

I’ve been made aware that an insensitive, unkind tweet of mine from 2009 has been shared in many groups on social media. I want to be clear that I’ve grown significantly in the last 10 years and would not have this response to anything similar – meme or otherwise – today. I’m sorry that I shared that view in 2009 and I’m sorry it’s causing hurt today for people.

My campaign is undeniably about centering the needs of marginalized people in Memphis. I do not have a platform that uniquely focuses on the Memphis Animal Services. If elected, I commit to working with the director of MAS to ensure the animals under their care are treated with love, that they are given the best life possible while looking for adoption, and that the agency continues the work they’ve done to restore its reputation with the public.

Back in 2009, Sawyer wrote an insensitive unedited tweet that read like this: “the lady whos dog got euthanized @ the shelter made me laugh. i know its mean, but she was crying and she just looked crazy.”